We’ve pulled together a genreless list of black musicians you should support as they navigate this hostile industry.
Despite the fact that popular music today would not have been possible without Black art, Black artists have historically been short-changed by the music industry. Music is a notoriously unstable career–many musicians make a large portion of their income from touring, unable to make a living off of their music alone. Like their white counterparts, Black artists have to contend with paltry streaming pay-outs—unlike their white counterparts, they are far more likely to be exploited for their work.
There are countless stories of black artists who have been let down by the music industry, like the late soul legend Bill Withers who left the industry in part because of racism, and Clyde Stubblefield—the drummer behind funk’s greatest drum patterns—who died in debt because he was never properly compensated for his work. In addition to going unrecognized, Black artists who do manage to break into the music industry are often the subject of predatory recording label contracts that take away their rights to their recordings. Recently, Megan Thee Stallion spoke out about her “unconscionable” contract, and artists like Prince and Meek Mill have gone so far as to compare record label contracts to slavery.
On June 2, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang started the #TheShowMustBePaused campaign in an effort to hold the music industry accountable for profiting off of black art but doing little to support black people in the wake of the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black people. While the implementation of the campaign—which gained traction outside of the music industry and saw thousands flood the #blacklivesmatter tag with black squares—has been criticized by Kehlani and Lil Nas X for being performative, the effort provoked statements from music companies like Spotify, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music.
In response to the black-out, Bandcamp announced that on top of waiving their revenue share on June 5 and July 3 they will be donating their revenue share every Juneteenth (June 19) to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Today, in honor of Bandcamp waiving their revenue share, AdHoc has compiled a list of different Black artists based in New York City that you can help support directly. This is just one step that you can make as a consumer to support Black musicians as they try to make a living in a hostile industry.
A number of the artists listed have announced that their proceeds from Bandcamp sales either on June 5 or for the next week are going to be directed to organizations and funds in memory of George Floyd. Record labels like Fire Talk and Exploding in Sound will also be donating proceeds to various organizations—for a full list of labels and artists taking this action, click here.
Asoh Black!’s debut mixtape Black Ocean: Season One may not be on Bandcamp, but his artist page is still full of early EPs and tracks from all the way back to 2015. The Brooklyn emcee, also a founding member of the New York collective Free.All.Mind$, had described his sound as “neo-funk, futuristic-type rap.” His most recent project on Bandcamp #ASOHATTACKS. Vol 1 was the product of an intense work ethic, with the rapper releasing one track every week for eleven weeks. Highlights from #ASOHATTACKS include “WATCHING RICK AND MORTY,” a track that manages to feature bright synths and a sample from the adult cartoon, and “JOY,” a reggae-inflected smoker’s anthem.
Shortly after publication Asoh Black! put his debut mixtape “Black Ocean: Season One” on Bandcamp.
The title of Dianna Lopez’s latest offering Shapeshifting can also be used to describe her sprawling sound, as she moves from the R&B on “Internal Lullaby” to the psych-rock slow down on “Date With The Moon” and “Euphoria.” Tied together by a sense of effortless cool, it’s not hard to hear the influence of artists like Tame Impala on the EP—although Lopez has carved her own niche by creating lounge-ready indie.
Dianna Lopez will be donating 50% of her earnings from Bandcamp Friday to Black Lives Matter Organizations—stay tuned for an announcement of where the money will be going.
Luwayne Glass, the prolific multidisciplinary artist behind hardcore project Dreamcrusher, has an extensive catalog that spans everything from industrial to self-described “shitgaze.” The New York-via-Kansas artist’s latest project, Another Country, is their 39th release and comes about a month after their Panopticon! project. Dreamcrusher’s feverish noise compositions veer between feedback-laden political statements and atmospheric deep-listening experiences. Glass’ project invites you to let go of your expectations and let the waves of noise crash into you—and trust us, it’s more fun that way.
A portion of the cassette sales from ‘Another Country’ go towards National Bail Out.
Jamaica, Queens native Candance Camacho, who performs under the moniker duendita, crafts soul music for the new generation. Camacho’s tender songs address everything from police brutality (“Blue Hands”) to misogyny (“I’ma Get You”), heavy topics carried by her soaring, healing voice. The spiritualism throughout direct line to My Creator offers comfort from the topics Camacho sings about, the entire collection of songs a lesson on finding peace after the storm.
100% of sales from Bandcamp Friday will go towards the Emergency Release Fund, which helps keep trans people safe and out of jail.
Bronx rapper Kemba is bringing cutting, socially-minded rap that just as easily delves into introspection as it lobs scathing critiques of those in power. His albums showcase the wide spectrum of topics he raps about, with “Greed” off of 2016’s Negus—a tight take-down of capitalism and its guardians—and major-label debut Gilda, a touching ode to his late mother. Other highlights within his catalog include “Pisces,” an eerie bop that showcases Kemba’s lyrical quirks, and “Kill Your Idols,” a chill rap track that calls-out corruption, police brutality, and even Jay Z.
Electronic music and R&B meet on this debut EP from Brooklyn-based artist NTU. We’ve been fans of NTU since we premiered “Perfect Blue,” the title track for his debut EP. When we spoke to the experimental artist—who cites FKA twigs and Bjork as inspirations—he told us that his EP would imagine “black futures beyond oppression.” NTU delivers on Perfect Blue, with experimental electronic music that takes you to a distant and vibrant future.
100% of sales made from his music from now until June 12 will be donated to the Richmond Community Bail Fund, Baltimore Action Legal Team, Black Visions Collective, and Justice for Breonna Taylor. After June 12, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the “Perfect Blue” EP will go to one or more of the listed funds.
Pom Pom Squad
Self-proclaimed “quiet grrrl” band Pom Pom Squad have followed up last September’s Ow EP with The Ow Demos. Fronted by Mia Berrin, the Brooklyn-based band’s take on punk keeps the same blunt lyricism and backs it with open vulnerability. The Ow Demos are a unique look at Berrin’s project before Pom Pom Squad became a full band—a glimpse at the personal journey Berrin took while writing and recording the Ow EP.
On June 5, Pom Pom Squad will be donating all proceeds from the digital sales to Black Visions Collective. You can support the band directly by purchasing their physical merch.
Hailing from Rochester, New York, Spencer Allen’s dreamy R&B garnered him a spot on tour with Gus Dapperton. Listening to the Want U Back EP, a project that captures post-breakup blues, it’s not hard to see why Allen has garnered cosigns from Brockhampton and Omar Apollo. It’s Allen’s production that distinguishes him from the rest of the crowded bedroom pop and alternative R&B space, like on “Heat of Summer,” where a repetitive drum line is complemented by woozy trumpets.
War Violet is the creative project of New York-based artist Jummy Aremu, which sees her transform folk tunes into sunny, 60’s era pop epics. “I Hope I See You Again,” off Aremu’s EP Getaway, feels like a track out of time as Aremu warbles “there’s a will / there’s a way / the stars are here to stay” over orchestral flourishes.
War Violet will be donating part of the proceeds from Bandcamp for the rest of June to bailout funds, black trans funds, and other funds directly aiding protesters and black lives.
This article previously ran with a graphic that featured Akil Grubb in the place of Asoh Black! We’ve amended the graphic to correctly include Asoh Black! and we apologize for the error. If you have any comments about this piece, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.