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Top 10 Indie Artists to Watch this Summer


…because nothing is worse on a hot summer’s day than sucky radio.

Imagine you’re out by the pool with friends, jamming to that song that is actually pretty crappy but is still hella catchy, macking on that sweet young thang that you’re shocked showed up to your party and boom – a commercial for erectile dysfunction interrupts your game, and she starts giggling so hard (pun intended) that you’re forced to abort mission.

Or, imagine you’re taking a road trip with friends, listening to some tunes on the radio and suddenly, as much as you love Abel, you just wish he’d either get his face checked out by a doctor or leave that girl alone so the numbness will wear off.

Fear not – I’ve got some of the hottest indie acts (in my humble opinion) so you can make your own playlists and get out of the summer radio rut, along with some appropriate playlist suggestions.

  1. Shy Girls

If you’re interested in some smooth after-work or pre-makeout music, Shy Girls will be your go-to. The “white Weeknd,” as I call him, has a mellow voice coupled with some chill grooves that will get anyone in the mood to love or relax. Check out “Arrest Me” featuring Tei Shi on their SoundCloud. It’s a personal favorite.

Playlist: Smooth Out; Love and Such

  1. Tei Shi

Speaking of Tei Shi…she’s force to be reckoned with, herself. You know those singers who can sing, but like…really sing? Like, you have to say it like that so people know just how great their voices are? Well, she’s that kind of singer. Along with a cover of Beyoncé’s “No Angel,” a personal favorite of mine is also “Sickasfuck,” which is just that. It’s like if Lorde were to put out a song of her voice overdubbed with her voice, if you catch my drift.

Playlist: Smooth Out

  1. Lion Babe

Lion Babe is one of those groups you almost hope never gets signed to a major label (I really wish them the best, but I never want them to sell their souls.) It’s like Erykah Badu and Jill Scott got together and made a jazzy, vibey baby. My favorite for this summer: “Endless Summer” of course!

Playlist: Smooth Out

  1. Junglepussy

Yaassss queen! I’m loving the self-love coming from this young lady – and no, that was not a euphemism. She’s bad and she knows it. With more of a spoken word vibe than anything, she spits effortlessly like a strong woman who just so happened to be talking when someone started playing a track and recording. While her music is not something you could play in front of your grandmother – well, you can’t even really say her name in front of Gram-Gram – it’s definitely something for the ladies who wanna feel bold and sexy. (Also follow her on Twitter. You’re welcome.)

Playlist: Grown and Sexy; Get it Bihhh; Girl Power

  1. Maggie Rogers

Yup, it’s that girl you saw in that video shared on Facebook a bajillion times singing for Pharrell. She has exactly one song, “Alaska,” but it’s beautiful. She’s got an incredible falsetto going, and you really can’t help but tap your foot to the beat. It’s pretty funky for a mellower jam, and it has a couple kicks in it, fit for a chill day when the turn-up is optional.

Playlist: Smooth Out; Rainy Day

  1. Lyric Michelle

I LOVE LYRIC MICHELLE. It’s not very often that I listen to full SoundCloud profiles and then am OK with them starting all over and playing through again, but I do with hers. She’s got the coolest way of telling her story with a mixture of singing and rapping, coupled with some pretty striking lyrics. A personal favorite is “Can’t Stop” featuring Lee-Lon.

Playlist: Going Out; At Work; Stay Woke

  1. Lee-Lon

Did someone say Lee-Lon? Self-described as “organic,” you can feel that in his lyrics and beats (which he makes many of himself – he’s also a producer). Ladies, let’s talk about his song, “Shower,” for a second…You’re gonna wanna dance when you hear the beatbox as the song starts, then your clothes are gonna fall off around the 30 second mark. Lee-Lon’s voice is beautiful, and I would tell you who he sounds like, but he just sounds like him. And that’s a good thing.

Playlist: Love and Such; Going Out; At Work

  1. Soul of Sherif

I’ve mentioned Soul of Sherif before, but I have to do it to again. I love his social consciousness, as well as his refusal to be like anyone else. Among Sherif’s inspirations are Lauryn Hill, Kanye West, James Brown, Michael Jackson, all of whom are/were very vocal about their opinions on social issues. “F*** Society” is a prime example of that exact topic, and also very representative of the rest of his musical style.

Playlist: Stay Woke

  1. Doeman

OK, be prepared to be impressed. Independent rappers are usually a flop, can we all agree? I’m so over people’s mixtapes being lame. But Doeman has a pretty wonderful album. I’m a hard sell on rappers, especially local ones. I have willingly gone to see him more than once, and I legitimately listen to his album by choice, more than once. Some of my faves are “FWMN,” because that’s what we all wanna say to our haters when we “make it,” and “Whaddup Luv,” because, well, ya know, girly stuff.

Playlist: Going Out; Turn Up

10. 9th Sage

I mentioned 9th Sage in another list earlier this year, but he deserves a re-mention as well. I just got to hear his first live set the other night, and it was a whole bunch of music that I’ve never heard before – and I loved it. DJs are great about playing music to get people dancing, but sometimes you need to chill, and that’s what he’s great for. Intermingled with songs you already know, 9th gives people some new sounds to try out, and a relief from the mainstream madness.

Playlist: Going Out; At Work


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Hope Carter
Hailing from "Screwston," Texas, Hope has been immersed in music since birth, first being exposed to Motown by her parents, then discovering her love for all genres as she trained as a dancer. Her unique set of life experiences growing up in Houston's Historic Third Ward as a lower middle class child, attending schools in more affluent neighborhoods, all the while attending an international church in which she was very involved, created her open-minded approach to music and art. Hope is very socially conscious, and prefers to take songs as a whole - both lyrically and sonically - before making her final judgment on their quality. As a dancer, she is inclined to be interested to anything she can move to, but her Dirty South roots give her room to appreciate a more laidback, chill (screwed) vibe. Her taste in music continues to change as she discovers new artists and as genres evolve.