R&B/soul singer-songwriter Ashton Simmonds made headlines for the wrong reasons these last 18 months, but the Toronto native will escape 2019 with a Grammy. The independent Canadian artist released Case Study 01 in June, trading in his previous crooning about love for a more somber tone over flicks of the guitar.
Rapper-activist Talib Kweli Greene gives a two-night crash course on blackness. One-half of poetic duo Black Star with fellow Brooklyn native Mos Def, the conscious wordsmith refuses to surrender on his quest for equality. Evidence: his rapid fire emissions over soul-heavy beats on 2017’s Radio Silence, or skim his 441,000-tweet encyclopedia.