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10 Black Pop-Punk & Alt-Rock Acts Everyone Should Know

Black Pop-Punk Alt-Rock Acts
[Photos by: Fefe Dobson/Spotify, KennyHoopla/Press, Backxwash/Chachi Revah, Meet Me @ The Altar/Press]

From rock n’ roll godmother Sister Rosetta Tharpe to grunge singer Tina Bell, there have always been Black rock music artists. Pop-punk and alternative rock are no different. To celebrate Black History Month and the kickass contributions of Black rock artists, here are 10 Black pop-punk and alt-rock artists you should listen to year-round.

Fefe Dobson

The Canadian pop-punk singer Fefe Dobson released her self-titled debut album in 2003, which spawned hits that included “Take Me Away,” “Bye Bye Boyfriend,” and “Everything.” She would follow that album with 2006’s Sunday Love and 2010’s Joy. The latter was especially notable for evolving her pop-punk sound by incorporating electronica and dance-pop. In 2022, she released her first new single, “FCKN IN LOVE,” and the 2023 singles “RECHARGE MY HEART” and “HUNGOVER.” These singles would lead to her new album, Emotion Sickness, released in the fall of 2023. Emotion Sickness combines pop-punk debauchery with electronica and dance-pop stories of love and loss, reminiscing while moving forward to a better future.   

Travie McCoy/Gym Class Heroes

A rapper, singer, and songwriter, Travie McCoy would go on to co-found the alternative rock band Gym Class Heroes after meeting drummer Matt McGinley in 1997. Fueled By Ramen released Gym Class Heroes‘ debut album, The Papercut Chronicles, in 2005 by and generated the chart-topping single “Cupid’s Chokehold” featuring Fall Out Boy’s vocalist Patrick Stump

At a time when some music critics and fans dismissed rap-rock, Gym Class Heroes demonstrated how relatable it could be. Songs like “Petrified Life And The Twice Told Joke (Decrepit Bricks)” and “Everyday’s Forecast” sincerely discussed depression and being out of place. The success of this album would result in the 2011 sequel The Papercut Chronicles II and its hit single “Stereo Hearts,” which featured Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine

After Gym Class Heroes went on hiatus, McCoy continued as a solo artist, with his first album, Lazarus, released in 2010. He released his most recent album, Never Slept Better, in 2022. The latter showcases the raw lyrical honesty seen in Gym Class Heroes with an evolved musical sound that features blues, disco, and R&B influences in addition to hip-hop.


Actress and singer WILLOW released her debut single, “Whip My Hair,” in 2010, followed by her first album, ARDIPITHECUS, in 2015. As her music career progressed, she gradually dipped her toes into folk and pop rock with her 2017 album The 1st and 2019’s WILLOW. She reflected this transition in THE ANXIETY, her 2020 album in collaboration with singer Tyler Cole

In 2021, she would jump headfirst into pop-punk with her album lately I feel EVERYTHING. The album featured collaborations with Travis Baker on the single “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” and Avril Lavigne on “G R O W.” The release marked not only her growth as an artist but also as a person discovering more about herself and being bolder. WILLOW‘s most recent album, <COPINGMECHANISM>, is a darker pop-punk collection that arrived in 2022. It oozes heartbreak, yearning, anger, and depression in songs like “ur a <stranger>” and “hover like a GODDESS.”

Meet Me @ The Altar

Formed in 2015, Meet Me @ The Altar consists of vocalist Edith Victoria, guitarist Téa Campbell, and drummer Ada Juarez. After releasing a series of EPs independently from 2015 to 2019, they signed with Fueled By Ramen in 2020. In 2021, they released their EP Model Citizen, which featured singles “Feel A Thing” and “Brighter Days (Are Before Us).”

In early 2023, they release their debut album, Past // Present // Future, which included hit singles “Say It (To My Face)” and “Kool.” They released a deluxe edition of the album later that fall with four additional tracks, including the three-piece’s cover of “Take Me Away,” which appeared in the 2003 Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan-led film Freaky Friday. Both versions of the album bring ‘00s pop-punk into the present with the band’s dynamic synergy as well as their earnest and clever lyrics that discuss topics ranging from internet trolls to following your dreams.

Magnolia Park

Formed in 2019, Magnolia Park features lead vocalist Joshua Roberts, guitarists Tristan Torres and Freddie Criales, drummer Joe Horsham, and keyboardist Vincent Ernest. They independently released their debut EP, Vacant, in 2019. In 2021, they released the EP Dream Eater before inking a deal with Epitaph Records

From there, their sound started to gel with the release of their 2021 debut album, Halloween Mixtape, and their 2022 follow-up, Baku’s Revenge, the latter of which received a deluxe edition release in spring 2023. Featuring influences ranging from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas to their own lives, both albums would be the catalyst for their 2023 album Halloween Mixtape II. The record adds newer nu-metal and dance-pop influences that encapsulate its themes of depression, longing, and societal ills.


Singer Fousheé released her first EP, Speak Up, in 2018, which combined elements of soul and alternative rock. In 2020, she garnered attention as a featured artist on rapper Sleepy Hallow‘s 2020 song “Deep End Freestyle.” During that same year, Fousheé would release her version of the track, becoming the first Black woman to reach the Top 10 on Billboard’s Alternative Airplay Chart since Tracy Chapman‘s 1989 song “Crossroads.” 

After signing to RCA Records in 2020, she released her second EP, Time Machine, in 2021, which featured the singles “deep end,” “enjoy the silence,” and “my slime.” In 2022, she released her debut album, softCORE. Lyrically and sonically, the album combines the braggadocio of hip-hop with the anger of alt-rock and the tenderness of R&B in songs such as “simmer down,” “bored,” and “spend the money,” which features Lil Uzi Vert.


KennyHoopla made his music debut in 2016 with the  EP Beneath The Willow Tree on his SoundCloud page. The following year, he released the single “Waves//,” followed by “Sickness” in 2018. With the 2019 single “lost cause//,” he would have his most successful single to date. In 2020, he released his EP how will i rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?// which combined pop-punk, hip-hop, and drum and bass influences. 

He followed this with his 2021 debut mixtape, SURVIVORS GUILT: THE MIXTAPE, which marked his first collaboration with Travis Barker. He released his second work with Barker, the EP, BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS IT//, in 2023. From 2020 onwards, he put a fresh new spin on skate punk music in his work, something that could be featured in the video game series Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.


The Zambian-Canandian rapper Backxwash released her first EPs, F.R.E.A.K.S and BLACK SAILOR MOON, in 2018. Following her 8-track debut record, DEVIANCY, released in 2019, she released her sophomore album, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It in 2020. The latter would combine horrorcore rap with a raging delivery and punk elements to win the 2020 Polaris Music Prize. She followed that with her 2021 album I Lie Here Buried With My Rings And Dresses and 2022’s His Happiness Shall Come First Even Though We Are Suffering

With these three albums, a trilogy has formed that encompasses the anger, despair, empowerment, and healing she has experienced as a Black transgender woman. Through the lens of spirituality and mental health, she journeys to hell and back to make peace with herself and the world around her.


A three-piece soul punk band from Baltimore, Maryland, nightlife features vocalist and producer Hansel Romero, bassist/guitarist Julian Lofton, and drummer Isaiah Walker. In 2021, they debuted with their EP, new low; its soul-infused alt-rock title track became a major hit for the group. They released their second EP, fallback, in 2022 and featured the eponymous funk rock hit single. Following their addition to Issues‘ farewell tour lineup in 2023, nightlife released their most recent single, “face2face.” Combining the sounds of ‘50s and ‘60s soul artists like Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin with modern bands such as Good Charlotte and Red Hot Chili Peppers, this band is living proof that rock is versatile. Julian Lofton’s soulful vocals are also reminiscent of ‘90s R&B groups like Boyz II Men or Blackstreet.

Nova Twins

Hailing from the UK, the rock duo Nova Twins consists of vocalist/guitarist Amy Love and bassist Georgia South. Formed in 2014, they released their first single, “Bassline Bitch” the following year. In 2016, they signed with the label Robotunes and released their self-titled debut EP. Following that, they self-released their 2017 EP, Thelma And Louise, and launched their clothing line, Bad Stitches.

After touring with Prophets Of Rage in 2019, they released their debut album, Who Are The Girls?, in 2020 and won Best UK Breakthrough Band in the Heavy Music Awards. They released their second album, Supernova, in 2022. Amy Love’s bold rap delivery and fierce guitar riffs synergize well with Georgia South’s dynamic bass guitar. Enhancing both are the duo’s cheeky and powerful lyrics, from the sexually braggadocious “Puzzles” to the empowering “Choose Your Fighter.” Their cinematic music videos are also notable, bringing the songs to life with fantastical antics.

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