It is really hard to come up with such a small list of inspirational artists. What you will see here is the result of a short, but devoted research for some of the great artists that granted us with their masterpieces in the last decades.
Dr. Dre started as a rapper in the early 80s and was responsible for the inception and adoption of the gangsta rap, where he popularized his own genre G-funk, characterized by its slow, heavy and synthesized beats. As a producer, he revealed the career of many now renowned rappers, like Eminem, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent. As an entrepreneur, he is the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment.
His business career is more expressive than his own music, following a partnership in N.W.A. and raising other companies after that. He is also the founder of Beats Electronics, the celebrity headphones company that was later acquired by Apple for $3 billion. Dre is considered one of the most recognizable and influential businessmen in the music industry. He also acted in a few movies, including “The Wash” and “Training Day”.
Born as Johnny Allen Hendrix in 1942, Seattle, Jimi started his contact with a guitar very early, when his father gave him one at the age of 15. His influences came mostly from blues, and would help him later to start as a musician with his first band, the Velvetones. He only earned the deserved recognition much later outside the US, during a tour in England. The iconic scene where he set his guitar on fire at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival grabbed the media attention and became unforgettable and a true symbol of his art.
Jimi’s guitar techniques were unique at the time, and alongside his background in studio and songwriting, he accomplished many things that were unimaginable for many artists. With his performance and style, Hendrix left a lasting impact in the music with his ‘Experience’, crossing genres like rock, jazz and blues magnificently. The problems with alcohol and drugs led him to his death at the young age of 27, but his legacy still lives among the new musicians that follow his steps, inspired by his remarkable work and vision.
Actor and rapper, Tupac Shakur was born in NY as Lesane Parish Crooks, in 1971. He started writing song lyrics about gun control, and for a long time showed great interest for dance, particularly ballet when attending on Baltimore School for the Arts. He made his presence with the “Me Against The World” in 1995, which ensured him a platinum after a top debut and turned him into one of the most successful gangsta rappers in the 90s. Tupac was influenced by many brilliant minds, including Nietzsche, Sun Tzu, and most predominantly, Machiavelli.
Known for his shocking lyrics, he presented through them most of his life in a socially problematic environment, full of sex, violence, and drugs, mostly from the places where he grew up, Harlem and Bronx. This was mostly reflected in his most controversial album “2Pacalypse Now”, that became one of the most popular at the time. Tupac was killed prematurely at the age of 25 in a drive-by shooting, suspiciously by the orders of Notorious B.I.G., his biggest rival. The artist had many things under development, some of them released posthumously. His work turned him into an icon around the world and one of the greatest best-selling artists, with sales that surpass 75 million. The sudden end of “2Pac” was as shocking as his career and the legacy he left in the hip-hop community.
Born Elvis Aaron Presley, in Tupelo Mississippi, Elvis today is known as the king of rock and roll. An iconic and talented figure, he had good looks and charismatic presence, which helped him to define and disseminate the popular music in America. He got his first music references on gospel and a guitar as the first musical instrument, presented by his parents when he was only eleven. His audacious and sensual dance moves turned him into a captivating symbol of the youth on his career, and granting him the nickname of “Elvis the Pelvis”.
His career started to take off after a contract with the RCA Records, releasing several albums and turning into a multi-million dollars artist. He performed numerous roles, in a total of 33 films, and presences on TV specials. His drug addiction started to affect his health in the 70s, and shortly after his last show in June 1977, he died of a heart failure with 42 years of age. For those who still admire and adore him, the king is still alive, and will always be thanks to his songs and movies that market a trend of a whole generation.
Born in London as David Jones, Bowie turned himself into a unique artist. As a musician, songwriter and performer, he always found new ways to reinvent himself along with his art form. One of his first great appearances was with the debut of Space Oddity, which coincided with the moon landing and would eventually become a hit in the UK. During his career, David Bowie incarnated in many emblematic figures of his own creation, like Ziggy Stardust e Aladdin Sane. He would later release the song “Under Pressure” alongside the rock band Queen, and turn it into another great hit.
Besides a singer and songwriter, he is also known for his film career as an actor, appearing in several movies, like Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners, and The Prestige. He always presented his music under different artistic facets, showing his ambition under his vision with a mix of visuals and performance during his shows. Bowie captivated many generations with his geniality and expressive personality, and still present in the artistic scene, with the unexpected release of his new album in 10 years and the 30th of his career, “The Next Day”.
There are definitely many artists that could easily make into this list, but I prefer to leave you visitor with your suggestions. Please consider leaving your own list of favorite music artists in the comments below.