I'll be honest, I miss the early 2010s. I was a freshman in high school who had just gotten Spotify premium, and the world was my oyster. But, a lot of these amazing artists I found have faded into the background despite still being at the top of their game. Let's find some people you need to check out again.
I am a fanboy of Action Bronson. This is the renaissance man to a T. In recent years, he's been better known for his TV show, F*ck, That's Delicious, which airs on Viceland, his role in The Irishman, his paintings, his weight loss journey, and his cookbooks than his music necessarily, but he still boasts over a million monthly listeners on Spotify and comes out with new music regularly.
Best known for his 2013 hit song with Chance the Rapper, Baby Blue, and hasn't really had a hit song since, make no mistake, this man still makes bops. He just doesn't go for hits anymore, which is fine, and even respectable. His two most recent projects, White Bronco and Only for Dolphins, are deeply experimental, fun, and a reflection of his multicultural upbringing in Queens. Just because he does way more than music now doesn't mean the former/current chef forgot how to rap, trust me.
There was a revival, or rather, an explosion, of alternative music in the early 2010s, and Grouplove was right in the middle of it. Their hit song Tongue Tied lives on in the memory of every single person who heard this song at entirely too many bar mitzvahs in their youth.
But the thing is, why do they have to stay in your memory? While bands like Glass Animals and solo acts like Tame Impala have taken the alternative torch, they still make great music. It's not Tongue Tied, because nothing is Tongue Tied, but their 2020 album Healer is well worth a listen or seven.
Why Fetty Wap fell off continues to perplex me. This dude had hit after hit after hit, and still makes hits. They just don't get as much attention as before. The song I've linked above, Birthday, is as dance worthy and hype as his earlier work. I don't know about you, but I miss our cycloptic friend, and I want him back.
Calvin HarrisCalvin Harris
I'm aware Calvin Harris is one of the biggest names in music. But I feel like he's best known for his early work, like 2012's Feel so Close, currently playing in every Target and CVS in America. While he clearly isn't struggling to get his name back out there or lacking in commercial success, I think the hardcore music community has written him off as a sellout, when this dude is at the top of his game. Funk Waves Vol. 1 is one of the best albums I've ever heard. I have a friend who calls it the best album ever, he needs to relax, but the point is, this guy isn't some sellout industry hack, he's an artist, making amazing beats for everyone from Frank Ocean to Katy Perry to Schoolboy Q requires skill and mastery, and he's got it.
Speaking of Schoolboy Q, the Top Dawg Ent artist is still one of the biggest names in rap. While I admit nothing he's made since his 2014 masterpiece Oxymoron, which I still profess is the last great gangsta rap album, Blank Face LP and Crash Talk are nothing to scoff at. On a label with Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Isaiah Rashad, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul to boast about, Groovy Q doesn't just stand out, he shines.
Speaking of rappers who owned the mid-2010s, how about Earl Sweatshirt? The founding member of Odd Future emerged on the scene in 2010 with his mixtape, Earl, to critical acclaim. Like everything Odd Future made back then, it was provocative, even blatantly offensive, but it was good. Following his mother deciding he was too young to be famous and sending him to boarding school in Samoa, Earl returned in 2013 with the masterpieces Doris and I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, to critical and commercial acclaim. In a group that contained Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator, he managed to shine himself, and the world took notice.
Then, he vanished. For four long years. And he came back, but he wasn't the same. He was better. Some Rap Songs is not an album for the casual listener. It's for the fan. Earl makes music for his fans, makes what he wants now. A master of wordplay and controlling the emotions you feel when he speaks, the monotone yet eclectic rapper never left, he just wanted the real ones to stick with him. And we are here for it.
Lorde exploded into music as a 16 year old with her 2013 masterpiece Pure Heroine. A good title, since every song on that album is addictive as can get. But, her follow up, 2017's Melodrama, didn't receive the same hype. What began as a Billie Eilish-esque trajectory into mega stardom instead sort of coasted into being a respectable, but not huge artist.
There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't mean you should forget about her. She is an incredibly talented artistic enigma, and while Melodrama isn't as commercially successful as Pure Heroine, it is not something to scoff at. This album has features from Post Malone, Khalid, and SZA, among others, and songs like Homemade Dynamite can still bring the house down. Let her back into your life, you won't regret it.
Tove Lo's Stay High was a smash hit, with the original as well as the remixes garnering hundreds of millions of streams. After that? She had another hit, Talking Body, which was just as amazing and even more catchy. After that? Eh, not much. You would think. But her latest release, 2020s Sunshine Kitty, is fantastic. It's less for the radio and more for the fan, sure, but who cares? With features from Doja Cat, ALMA, and Kylie Minogue, among others, this album, and Tove Lo, still have a lot to offer.
I know his most recognizable bars these days are in Oreo Commercials with his son, but Wiz Khalifa has a lot more than Black and Yellow to offer you. His 2019 collaboration project with Curren$y, 2009, is amazing. It was received with disappointment from fans, as people typically expect party tracks from Wiz, but this isn't a party album, it's a rap album, and a good one at that, Oreo commercials be damned.
Yelawolf is one of the most unique artists out there. A man who was blending hip-hop and country before it was cool, the man who made the 2015 album Love Story, with hits like American You and features from Eminem still makes amazing music. He was previously best known for Love Story and his spot on the 2013, cypher style A$AP Rocky track 1Train. If you enjoy the trend of hip hop merging with other genres, especially the Young Thug, Lil Nas X style of country rap, Yelawolf is for you.
A man who comes from what many would call white trash, the self dubbed Slumerican is still making unique, experimental very good music.
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