Five of the best independent hidden gems of 2023

If 2023 taught us anything, it’s how fleeting a viral moment can be. When everyone can have their ‘moment’, then simultaneously no one can. That’s precisely why we saw an unprecedented number of TikTok stocks rise astronomically and then plummet in the same breath. Inversely, these viral flashes in the pan helped pave the way for real artists to make tangible marks on the face of the music and build businesses that will last far beyond the lifespan of most viral stars of the moment. Those Jordan Wards of the world, i.e. those artists that are just too damn talented to be denied. This list, humbly in its fourth year running, exists to shine just the tiniest additional spotlight on these rising stars who broke from the bite-sized, algorithm-friendly pack to put out full-length bodies of work that will likely stand the test of time.

John RoseboroJohnny

The leader of the emerging post-bossa scene, Roseboro is also a quickly budding legend of the New York indie underground. One of the most undeniably creative creatives making music right now, his sophomore album Johnny combines his soft pop, Bossa Nova rhythms with fantastical guitar melodies that feel like intense lullabies. His soft crooning vocals that enrapt and endear the listener are truly indescribable, eminently unique and uplifting, as the album twists and winds its way into the listener’s psyche. Odes to love, veiled in religious allegory and playful double entendres, exude throughout the project’s runtime – “Chicken” and “Gethsemane” being two examples. The latter, a remarkable triumph of resolute songwriting, juxtaposes the idea of the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus spent his final hours, with its songwriter as a place to “still his heart and mind” when he forgets how blessed he is. Johnny concludes with a beautiful bossa-nova duet cover of Kanye West’s “Violent Crimes”, a fitting denouement to a passionate and soul-baring collection of songs from the post-bossa wunderkind.

Grouptherapy.i was mature for my age, but i was still a child

Probably the most exciting hip-hop group since Brockhampton, Grouptherapy is a one of one trio of former child stars all grown up and delivering the most inventive, effervescent alternative rap stylings on the internet. Their third full-length effort, but also their most complete, i was mature for my age is an absolute testament to the cohesion of the group, giving each member ample chance to shine. Early standout “thatsmycheck.” utilizes the strong points of each group member – Jadagrace‘s infectiously melodic hooks, SWIM‘s knack for layered innuendo, and TJOnline‘s bouncy rhythms. You’d be hard-pressed to find another hip-hop collective that plays off each other better than the group. Another notable track “” is some GKMC-esque storytelling combined with obsessively paced verses – a true standout for song of the year.

Nobu WoodsMidnight Motions

You can’t mention dark R&B without thinking about Woods’ moody and ethereal stylings. Taking the reins of PARTYNEXTDOOR and Bryson Tiller, Nobu has built an unmistakable brand of temperamental toxicity with his stark, self-produced synth beats that leave nowhere for his vocals to hide. MIDNIGHT MOTIONS is unquestionably his most complete body of work yet, mixing his up-tempo allure with slow, capricious jams that sound even better on a late night drive alongside twinkling city lights. Closing track “TWENTY NIGHTS” is Woods at his best – “Spent some time away, you been so impatient” he croons, seemingly to his thousands of TikTok followers, eagerly awaiting new songs to build their personality around. Intense depth gives way to Nobu’s most personal release to date, a nuanced and thorough dive into the prince of dark R&B.


With an infectious personality to match his jaw-dropping lyrical ability, Reed is the best hip-hop artist to come out of the PNW in a very long time. Building off a familiar sounding flow, Oblé raps with a relentless efficiency that would put your favorite rapper to shame. Fueled by the hunger of having his city on his back, Seattle’s ‘hometown hero’ cut no corners with his remarkable debut record LINDENAVE!, a sweeping and complete body of work that embodies the hardworking, left-of-center ethos of his home city. Whether on the incredibly nuanced dissection of modern policing that is “DANCEPARTY.” or the self-care anthem that is “SK[I]NCARE”, the whole project doesn’t shy away from the difficult subjects while remaining fun as hell to listen to throughout. Astoundingly clean, Reed tells a multilayered narrative with breathless lyrical ability that should make him a fan favorite for years to come.

Keni Titusmud on my superstars

Capturing a sense of childlike wonder with haunting vocals and inspired anthemic production, Titus is making A24 music that A24 wishes they had thought of. There are shades of Hayley Williams in here – the preternatural pop songwriting that shows in masterpieces like “american spirit” and “hungry” – shades of a burgeoning master of their craft. Additionally, “if u want” is one of the best songs of the year, an overwhelmingly addictive indie gem that showcases the budding superstar at her very best – crooning with her delicate rasp over a simple yet bewitching accoustic guitar. The little hints of indie-pop americana sprinkled throughout mud on my superstars are so endearing and comforting, this project will make you want to keep coming back again and again.

Connect with John Roseboro: Spotify | Apple | SoundCloud | Instagram | YouTube

Connect with Grouptherapy.: Spotify | Apple | SoundCloud | Instagram | YouTube

Connect with Nobu Woods: Spotify | Apple | SoundCloud | Instagram | YouTube

Connect with Oblé Reed: Spotify | Apple | SoundCloud | Instagram | YouTube

Connect with Keni Titus: Spotify | Apple | SoundCloud | Instagram | YouTube