Playlist: Celebrate Black Music Month With New Releases From Black Indie Artists
While Black Music Month was initiated over 40 years ago by President Jimmy Carter, in the current climate here in 2020 it seems even more important to recognize black Americans and black artists around the world for their massive contribution to modern music. It’s literally true that blues, rock, hip hop and all versions of EDM simply wouldn’t exist without black music artists. That’s pretty much everything in the modern music lexicon but it still can seem like the industry forgets.
It’s not for lack of supply when it comes to the indie music market; it’s awash with some of the most interesting and cool music coming from black artists, as it always has been. The trick is to get these artists more recognition and that’s where labels, publicists and the press really come in. As Black Music Month draws to a close but our work is just beginning with bringing equality to all artists of color, here’s a list of new releases from some amazing black indie artists who are doing great work and definitely deserve more recognition. Listen up!
Zilla With her Eyes Shut
With a pop/jazz/hip hop/indie hybrid style that’s almost impossible to describe, Zilla With her Eyes Shut has been compared to FKA Twigs, Erykah Badu and Bjork. Originally a classical pianist, Zilla’s composition and songwriting are melodic, frenetic and emotive all at once. It’s artsy and interesting and defies genre. With her self-titled debut album released earlier this year and more on the way, Zilla is poised to be the next important game changer in the indie music landscape.
This South African bass music powerhouse has been running the charts in that genre, with labels scrambling to work with him since he put out his first single “Grotesque” in 2016. His most recent release is an EP called Quarter Inch on Deadbeats and is a beautiful showcase of his crunchy, experimental bass manipulation.
Before COVID hit, Chee had been working the festival circuit in the US and Europe pretty hard but now that events have been stimied, he’s done a couple of livestream festivals. Next up, he’s headlining Summereyes Festival this weekend, hosted by EDM.com.
Check out Chee’s Instagram for details.
The London party house trio known as Jaded started in 2014 but producers Nari, Jordan and Teo had all been making music before then, both together and separately. They produced some of the biggest names in music once they decided to dedicate all their time and talent to Jaded, their clean production and pop-friendly dance music made them masters of the party vibe and their popularity grew. They’ve recently made a track featuring Ashnikko and they’ve got almost half a million monthly plays on Spotify.
Check out their newest single, “Dance Much” feat. Ali Story.
As a 50-year veteran of the music industry who’s worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, David Bowie and Luther Vandross, Ava Cherry is neither new nor obscure. As a legend of the dancefloor in both disco and Chicago house as the two genres were cusping each other, this silken-voiced songstress recently hooked up with prevalent house music label Wake Up! Music to bring the soul and “love” back to Chicago house house.
“Testify Love” is Cherry’s first single with Wake Up! but hopefully it’s not the last.
Nu soul may have found its next champion in Kai Exos, with his debut album Housplants making pretty big waves and even filtering into the pop scene. The lead single “Komorebi” is short but shows the depth of feeling and perception in Exos’s music. “Komorebi” is a Japanese word that describes the phenomenon of light scattering through the trees and the feeling that invokes. The music and production on this track truly replicate that feeling, and the album is full of little emotive surprises as well as clean, soulful…well, soul.
Label: Inperspective Records
Run by drum & bass renaissance man Chris Inperspective, Inperspective Records specializes in releasing music that’s a bit of the 174-BPM beaten path. In that sense, the label mirrors Inperspective’s own style, which is also very open and experimental while still paying homage to the roots of bass music. While Chris tends to release his own music on a separate label that’s simply his artist name, his Dragons in the World EP on this imprint is a study in all the beat structures that make drum and bass possible.
Opening, as it should, with a four-minute long jazz drum solo, the EP also featured a track with Will Miles, who also had his own EP on the label. Inperspective Records has also released the likes of ambient D&B powerhouse Seba, jungle mainstay Phuture T and ambient/jazz fusion artist Pieter K.
Check out their newest release by Lynch Kingsley and follow this label and Chris for new developments with an upcoming foundation benefiting black musical artists.
With a sound sitting somewhere between pop and soul, Veda Black is a true up-and-comer, with her first few singles all having come out in 2020. That said, all of her work so far is of extremely high quality, especially her voice. Strong, sultry and, best of all, not auto-tuned, Veda Black is bound for great things with that voice and her smooth style.
Check out her latest single, “Call It Love.”
J’Moris is an honest, gritty rapper from Hillsboro, Texas who combines a smooth musical and flow style with “real talk” lyrics and a striking message about what it is to be black in America in 2020. His first and seminal full-length album Blac Friday pulls no punches and is both a strong political message and a personal catharsis. In fact, one of the tracks on the album is literally called “Venting.” It’s an important album for the times and represents why music is so important to get these messages across.
Kyle Kinch is the Florida-based new master of the straight beat who is determined to bring back the fun and groove of house, techno and trance. Since he first began releasing in 2016, Kinch has released on pretty much every house label one can think of: Gorgon City’s Realm Records, Marshall Jefferson’s Freakin909, SubSoul’s new imprint Circles, and Rawsome Records to name just a few, so his obsession with jazz and disco seems to have paid off. His newest release on Solokoto Records is called “Diplomacy” and has both a great groove and a great message. Check it out along with his other work on Spotify.