In such an accessible time as we live in, finding individuality in artists can be a difficult task. An accompanying challenge is the natural compulsion to compare, a phenomena not exempt in music. To be in your own lane as an artist does not necessarily mean that you are without comparison but rather that it is harder to find contemporaries to compete with. Whether it be a result of excelling above others or simply performing on a plane parallel to others that evades the work of their peers, an artist in their own lane is transcendent in some category. For reference, we have identified three artists who fit this definition and highlighted the traits that make them truly special.
In music’s most eclectic era in history, Rico Nasty seems determined to conquer any and every sound available to her. Unequivocally rock, hip-hop, alternative, and dance, it’s hard to categorize music’s most dynamic woman of the moment. As women have grown evermore omnipresent in rap, Rico has made her presence felt without restraining herself to one genre. She’s the athlete on the team that you simply can’t coach, as it would narrow down her impact and cap her potential.
Her latest album Las Ruinas is her most emblematic of her skillset to date; on standout track “Messy,” she’s able to match the energy of guest Teezo Touchdown, a feat only suited for a select few artists. She shapeshifts throughout the tracklist, inciting rageful exuberance on “Jungle,” offering hushed backup in the midst of “One On 5,” and hauntingly intimidating in her raps on “Gotsta Get Paid.” If none of these personas suit you, you’re sure to find some version of Rico enjoyable in her earlier discography and throughout her feature list. Malleable yet dominant, there aren’t many out there doing it like Rico Nasty, regardless of the sport.
Sometimes I’ll listen to the curated Hyperpop playlists on Spotify and be shocked by how similar some artists sound. I’ll hear what sounds like 7 different versions of the same song in a row, until a brakence track like “venus fly trap” comes on. This 5-minute-long single is the perfect example of brakence’s experimentation and ability to go against the grain. This dude is just kicking it in Ohio making unorthodox bangers.
His debut album, punk2, had intricate production, creative song structure, and an ASMR narrator featured throughout the project. He rarely posts on social media, but his cult-like following couldn’t care less. Fans seemed to know every word of every song at his first ever live show in 2021 — check out this recording of “rosier/punk2'' to see what I mean. After putting out three singles this year and teasing another coming 9/9, I need an album ASAP.
Opposed to occupying their own lane entirely, pop duo CRITTER exists at an intersection of genres and styles. Though their roots began in rap and folk respectfully, Jake Weinberg and Quinn Barnett have grown to compliment each other in the most Gen Z-appropriate fashion. Moving at their own frenetic pace, their debut EP HAVE SAFE B FUN embodies all of the self-identifying characteristics relatable to their targeted cohort: songs about Flintstone vitamin gummies, a playlist-friendly jam in “PFC,” and moments of nostalgic youth captured in maturity. Their latest project, Cats, Snakes, and Geckos, is just as abrasive as it is embracing, a friction-fueled contrast that always keeps things interesting.