Underground music is celebratory yet non-mainstream. As a genre of music, it allows fans to express themselves freely, and thus holds a special place in the hearts of music enthusiasts. Moreover, it gives a fresh perspective on life and engages with emotions and stories in a unique way, emphasizing the expression of self rather than commercialism.
This particular genre of music began as a platform for bands that didn’t fit into mainstream culture; today, it’s a place for artists to tell the truth through their music. It is an artistic movement that celebrates the struggles, rise, fall, sadness, happiness, culture, religion, personality, ideology, and experiences through various genres of music. Today, thriving artists can release their music without the help of fancy labels.
We bring you a list of some of the more celebrated underground artists who are redefining life through music like never before.
1. Matt King
Neo-traditionalists like Wayne “The Train” Hancock started underground country, which has now become a much-loved genre in the underground scene. One name that has brought vivid music portraits from a world of contrasts is singer/songwriter Matt King.
Like every other singer with a dream, Matt tried to grab his brightest dream and managed to land a gig with Opryland. The reality of the situation, however, overtook the singer and he did not have the financial resources to make his music popular. Today, singers like Matt have many platforms that allow them to make music about human conditions.
Platforms like the Wasserman Music agency have launched many country artists who have the same soul and the country richness that Matt had.
As a victim of profit-driven culture, Matt’s theme explores how he emerged from the other side. In his music, King expresses his reality, introducing people to the importance of confrontation while laughing at his own problems. He took refuge in music from the dark times of financial collapse, broken family, alcoholism, and divorce.
Known for her arresting work that made its way through the underground scene, SOPHIE produced art. Sophie Xeon, who later came out as transgender, remained anonymous in her early years. Her music was electrifying, and she worked closely with both underground and mainstream artists alike.
From her songs and interviews, it was evident that music had the same excitement as a roller coaster ride in a theme park. SOPHIE’s music not only permeated nightlife but also directly fostered relationships.
Her music was a medium of self-actualization as well as an expression of transness. She entered the music scene at a time when queer people were doing magic behind the scenes. Most musicians sing about heartbreaks and personal agendas, but SOPHIE’s music resonated with almost every trans woman. In her song Immaterial, she told them: “You’re not a real woman, and neither is anyone else.”.
3. Rachel Brooke
Rachel Brookes, the undisputed queen of Underground Country, knows how to make a country song heartbreaking. Unlike writing and singing about the bright side of human life and country music, Rachel decided to take a dark turn.
She explores a unique sadness in her songs and also touches upon the dark side of country music. Other than pain, Brookes talks about the loneliness that comes with having a special gift. As Brookes sings, “I sit upon my worry throne in a queendom that I rule alone” she discovers that becoming the best will inevitably bring loneliness.
It’s not common for people to talk about loneliness, which is one of the themes of the singer’s music. That is because, from the outside, it seems as if the monarch has everything.
Her latest album, “The Loneliness in Me,” consists of a number of story-telling songs that offer more life insight than any other mainstream music or song. Brookes’ music provides solace to people who find an unexplainable realization and happiness in the sorrow of life.
4. Lil Nas X
Not specifically an underground artist anymore, Lil Nas X has smashed into the mainstream music scene like a bomb. Emerging as one of the biggest rappers and country music stars of this decade, this 20-year-old young singer is the perfect example of an underground artist redefining life through music.
With only three years’ worth of music, Lil Nas X took country and rap – two of the most hyper-masculine genres and merged them together to create magic. He refers to himself as a student of the internet, as he grew up on it and took inspiration from underground SoundCloud rappers. As a black country artist who highlights the lack of diversity and inclusion in today’s music, he is already breaking ground with LGBT-positive lyrics.
In his recent music, he has been promoting self-acceptance and self-confidence in the face of stereotypes. Montero, his latest album, is a record that reflects his story from sleeping on his sister’s floor to buying a new house while battling insecurities.
Honorable Mentions: Teedra Moses
If you were looking for the top underground soul music and R&B with actual lyrical content, what would you choose? Your answer is Teedra’s music! Moses is one of those few artists who realize that lyrical content is as much important as the thrill provided through modern-day hip-hop. Her music goes much deeper than stereotypical romantic dramas, desires, and memorable hookups. She likes to draw from the elements of the past and produce music that is honest and is driven by real experiences. She talks about her music as a way of being frank with life, her feelings, and her experiences in love.
Mainstream music is just the surface, and like all good things, you need to dig a little before finding the treasure. Underground music has been that treasure that has offered people the truth and the realities of life through unique songs. The artists listed above have ditched the spotlight and simply focused on shifting the lens towards expressing life’s joys and tragedies through music. Thanks to various platforms, underground artists today are more resourceful than ever to put their talent and tales out there.