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Future Black History: The Music Stars Commanding the World's Attention Now

Superstars like Lil Uzi Vert, SZA, Lil Yachty and many more are changing music now and look primed to do so for years to come

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Named to last year's coveted XXL Freshman Class, Kyle has been on the come up since his debut single  "iSpy" topped the rap charts last year. The rising Cali native recently sat down with Fuse to discuss breaking barriers as a black artist and the individuals who never fail to inspire him. "To me, Future Black History means shaping the future," he says in the interview you can watch in full above. "Shaping our future to be the way we want it to be, and not the way it has to be. You think about anybody that's done something before that shouldn't have happened. Those are the people that have set the example for me." –Tina Xu

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The arrival of SZA's debut album Ctrl was a long wait, but one eventually worth it. While experimenting with different sounds and vocal styles for a minute, Ctrl proved to be SZA's sweet spot in gorgeously realistic storytelling (stories from the Black community that weren't being told in mainstream music) and complex singing styles (with cadences and vocal choices that didn't follow traditional flows). SZA stands proud as a musician who is unapologetically her style and found the greatest success of her career (so far) by embracing the uniqueness that is her. Jeff Benjamin

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​Vince Staples

What makes Vince Staples stand out among the troves of rappers in this generation is his straight up, no-frills style. The Compton native fuses his chill West Coast upbringing and a gang lifestyle past with minimal beats that grab your attention. Big Fish Theory, Staples’ second album, found him experimenting with unexpected sounds like dance and electronic that fueled the emotionally driven lyrics. If he keeps experimenting like this, Staples is bound to carve his own space in the future of music.Bianca Gracie

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Lil Uzi Vert

The rising star was well-known in the hip-hop space before what can be called his “big break,” but a featured role on Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” propelled him to heights only a few in his genre have known. That track made it all the way to No. 1, and he was able to capitalize beautifully on that success, becoming one of the hottest new talents in the music industry for much of 2017. His own follow-up single “XO Tour Llif3" ended up breaking into the top 10, and his debut album Luv Is Rage 2 debuted at No. 1, giving him major hits on the two most important charts in the U.S. in less than a year and indicating big things to come from his follow-ups. Hugh McIntyre

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Cardi B

Cardi B charted a No. 1 hit on her first try, becoming the first female MC in years to do so—how could she not be included on this list? The NYC hip-hop superstar has been building a name for herself on social media and on TV for a few years now, but 2017 saw her finally properly launch a mainstream music career, and things went brilliantly nearly right away. Her first single “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” shot straight to the peak, and since then she’s scored three additional top 10 smashes, which takes most artists years to do. She hasn’t even announced a debut album, and already it’s one of the most anticipated of the year. Hugh McIntyre

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When he was just a teenager, Khalid released his debut album American Teen to fanfare, and it surprised many people when it started inside the top 10. The record deserved an exciting beginning, but it was something of a shock considering the fact he hadn’t even scored a hit single yet. That would all change after the LP dropped, as “Location” and “Young Dumb and Broke,” both wound up being hits. He later scored his biggest smash to date alongside  Logic and Alessia Cara on “1-800-273-8255," which is widely regarded as one of the most impactful songs of 2017. Khalid might not have hit No. 1 or collected any of the five  GRAMMYs he was nominated for recently, but this is surely just the beginning for him, and his signature blend of R&B and pop will be in demand for a long time to come. Hugh McIntyre

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Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty’s striking charisma, confidence and optimism have lifted the 20-year-old rapper to continuing success he has today. Hailing from Atlanta, the Lil Boat artist is best-known for his high-charting collaborations, bright red braids and creative style, but we also witnessed Yachty spread a message of inclusivity earlier last year, when he dropped the album cover art for his debut album Teenage Emotions. The GRAMMY-nominated rising star sparked a conversation that needed to be addressed within hip-hop in representing loads of different kinds of people. Yachty has years of making an impact and delivering eye-popping visuals and lyrics and we are hopeful (and confident) he’ll continue to push the envelope.Amissa Pitter

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​Joey Bada$$

Joey Bada$$ is only two albums into his career, but he is already building a legacy that will crown him as one of the more boundary-pushing and political rappers of this generation. His latest album, All-Amerikkkan Badass, is powerful, intense and reflects all of the emotions the Brooklyn native has been going through in our nation's tumultuous climate. His appreciation for that classic ‘90s rap flow and production is very genuine and helps a younger audience understand the roots of the culture. Bianca Gracie

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​Ty Dolla $ign

If you haven’t heard the news already,  Ty Dolla $ign is not a rapper. The Los Angeles artist has been around since the mid-‘00s, but 2017 found him completely owning his unique style. Ty’s velvety, ‘90s R&B-leaning vocals pair well with almost any genre, as seen on his recent album Beach House 3. Aside from being a talented singer, Ty is also brilliant with the songwriting pen and can also produce his own music. Talk about a musical triple-threat with one of the brightest futures out there. Bianca Gracie

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21 Savage

21 Savage (real name Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) saw his future brighten immensely midway through 2017 when he partnered with Post Malone for their collaborative single “Rockstar.” The song was the kind of instant streaming smash that doesn’t come along very often. It kicked off at No. 2 in the U.S. and eventually stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for eight consecutive week, making it the third longest-running chart-topper of last year. As if that wasn’t enough to prove that the people want to hear from him, he scored two top five albums in the second half of 2017, which also speaks to how prolific he is and how hard he works. Hugh McIntyre

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Big Freedia

Big Freedia's '90s debut on the bounce scene represented a part of the larger movement of black and LGBTQ performers gaining notoriety and respect in new music scenes that continues to today. The star of Fuse's hit docu-series Big Freedia Bounces Back refuses to subscribe to traditional gender norms—preferring pronouns "she" and "her," but not identifying as trans—to showcase a different kind of music superstar for people to see themselves in who's just as big a diva as any other pop queen. Jeff Benjamin

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Photo of the day

Apr 2: Basket-Bros

Currently on his 'The Man of the Woods' tourJustin Timberlake brought out a special guest for his Cleveland show. LeBron James surprised concertgoers by showing up alongside Timberlake and taking a shot on stage. On Friday, the singer was also seen cheering on LeBron during the Pelicans and Cavaliers game. James gave a shout out on Instagram, "My brother @justintimberlake showed up and showed out last night at the Q! One of the greatest to ever do it in my lifetime and still going strong."