Ezra Bebop, Contributor
In the 2010s, an ever-progressive shift in American culture was beginning to bloom, and with it a shift in the focus of pop culture and the arts. Black voices rang louder than ever, pushing societal barriers and breaking world records in every medium, especially those of queer Black artists. In honor of this past Black History Month, let’s look back at just a few of the many beautiful Black artists that made their mark in the 2010s.
- Lil Nas X –Old Town Road
Needless to say, 20-year-old gay country/hip-hop artist Lil Nas X has carved an irreplaceable name for himself as a celebrity. His breakout hit “Old Town Road” stayed #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list for 19 months, setting a new record. Lil Nas X stands as a beacon for young queer POC artists, not only as an entertainer but also as a leader.
- Lizzo- Cuz I Love You
After her local rise to fame in Minneapolis, Lizzo skyrocketed into the forefront of pop in the 2010s, ending the decade by releasing her third studio album, “Cuz I Love You” which is the first album ever released that is impossible not to dance to. Lizzo pushes body-positivity and self-love, signified by her empowering music and confident attitude.
- N.K Jemisin- Broken Earth series
N.K Jemisin, a profound psychologist and author, is a prominent Black voice dominating science fiction and fantasy shelves. Each of the three books in her Broken Earth series won the Hugo Award for best novel for three consecutive years, and Jemisin is the only Black woman to hold an award in that category. Her fiction is Afrofuturist and detailed, and its baffling imaginings of the future always center Black folks’ perspectives. N.K Jemisin has made her voice heard in a space that’s usually homogeneous, making her a leading Black author and artistic pioneer.
- Jordan Peele- Get Out
On the tail end of the successful sketch-comedy series Key and Peele, Jordan Peele shocked audiences with his cathartic horror film Get Out, the most successful debut film project ever (188 million dollars). Jordan Peele has continued his work in the horror genre, releasing a follow up to his 2014 debut with 2019’s Us. Both films center Black protagonists and Black ideas, with Get Out discussing the struggle of interracial dating for POC and Us choosing to envision a strong Black family struggling through a night of doppelganger infested horror.
- Tyler the Creator-Igor
No one has shaken up rap like Tyler the Creator in the 2010s. His early career saw his formation of the group Odd Future, featuring the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean. Tyler’s bad-boy, self-loving attitude grew as he got older to a more refined sound, and his two latest projects, Flower Boy and Igor, seem to break from sounds of hip-hop and rap altogether. Igor won a Grammy last year. Tyler’s sound and style have inspired countless other rappers to be more colorful in style and sound, expanding past the hyper-masculine tropes of the hip-hop genre. Listening to his full discography is an insightful look into Tyler’s ever-growing sense of maturity and self-worth.