It may be a new year, but the pandemic is still as much a part of our lives as it ever was. This means independent artists have now been untethered from the stage and their primary source of income for almost an entire year. And no matter how much retooling they undergo, until the vaccines are firmly in circulation and (whatever’s left of) venues are cleared for our return, streaming is damn-near the only out for a working-class artist.
Heeding the call, Bandcamp Friday has been revived. This means the artist-friendly streamer will waive their cut of purchases, offering musicians the whole bag for all sales on the day. Last year, nearly 800,000 fans contributed to the crowdsourced stimulus, cushioning the hit artists are taking on ticket and merch sales by putting $40 million into the pockets of independent artists and labels still reeling from the loss of opportunities to perform.
And quite naturally, we’re back (and shoulder-deep) in the Bandcamp crates, digging through the site’s extensive catalog(s) to uncover the independent artists to support. This month’s selections include blasts of futuristic soul, off-kilter funk, guiltless scam rap, rugged-and-raw reboots of hip-hop’s boom-bap era, and so much more.
Back in 2010, Brooklyn-via-PNW producer, Stas Thee Boss, broke out in a big way as one half of the now-defunct genre-smashing duo THEESatisfaction. Nowadays, you can hear Stas gracing new projects from Nappy Nina and JWords, Shabbaz Palaces, DominicxMichael, and more. And Stas’s latest solo project, Sang Stasia!, is a blast of futuristic soul that will have you anxiously awaiting a return to a dance floor that isn’t in your living room.
One of the sonic architects of Buffalo’s rap boom, Camoflauge Monk has been an integral component of Griselda’s rise over the last few years. And though his more recent dispatches have been in the broader DSP landscape, the producer’s Bandcamp page is a fine place to familiarize yourself with a uniquely capable agent of rugged-and-raw boom-bap.
On the heels of a recent collaborative project with Armand Hammer’s ELUCID (as Small Bills,) Michigan-based producer and multi-instrumentalist, The Lasso, followed through with his lush Mello Music Group debut, 2121. A hip-hop suite built out of Sun Ra’s cosmic jazz ethos, the album is an early contender for year-end superlatives. Tap in below.
A scam rap goddess with a ton of range, bbymutha covers more ground than most. Her latest project, Muthalifcent 2, is a brief, but mighty, manual to the Tennessee artist’s guiltlessly raunchy arsenal of bars, seamlessly stitched into bedroom trap and polyrhythmic experiments with equal levels of force. bbymutha is definitely one of the independent artists to support today and buying an album isn’t the only way. You could also show love to her GoFundMe, in support of her Mutha Magick Apothecary line.
For more than a decade and running, Tall Black Guy, somehow, has remained one of the most slept-on producers in hip-hop. And his catalog, filled with enviable drums and surgical soul chops, is one of the game’s most overlooked. In late February, the Detroit beatmaker expanded his portfolio with the new album, Airplane Mode, packing an existential assessment into 40-minutes of swing-loaded bliss.
MonoNeon is no stranger to these pages. A virtuosic bassist with evergreen viral potential, the Memphis native has been releasing albums and loosies at a remarkable clip for a little more than a decade now. Last year, he backed Pete Rock on the third installment of Petestrumentals and gained a vocal super-fan in Eddie Murphy. His latest project, Supermane, is a proper and potent expansion of his catalog.
On his latest project, Norwegian producer Ol Burger Beats seems to have matched his pitch and pace with Vuyo, a versatile fellow Norwegian with a dynamic pen. But the beatmaker has been dropping jazz-mining bombs from across the pond for the better part of the last decade. And the entirety of his catalog, rife with understated drums and stellar crate excavations, is available to purchase on vinyl, which is arguably the best way to take it all in.
On Mello Music Group’s upcoming compilation album, Bushido, Quelle Chris teams up with Alchemist for a fit of fuzzed-out psyche and punchlines galore. But don’t sleep on the Detroit rapper’s 2020 outing with Chris Keys. Innocent Country 2 was amongst the year’s most riveting rap albums. And it’s the perfect point of entry to the extensive back catalog of an indie rap juggernaut.
Like a lot of beatmakers who happen to be from the state of Michigan, it can be a little too easy to stack Illingsworth up against the late J Dilla. Sure, they share an ear for bossa grooves, crisp snares, dry kicks, punchy basslines, and the whole Midwestern origins thing. But in 2021, those aren’t exactly uncommon tastes anymore. It may be more useful to view the producer’s style as a distinct variant on the Soulquarian strain, still growing and evolving from project to project. And you can chart that development across the dozens of beat tapes, collaborative projects, and occasional loosies released over the last decade and change.
If you caught his recent joint project with YUNGMORPHEUS, Thumbing Thru Foliage, you probably already know just how dangerous an ewonee loop can be. But the producer’s back catalog features solo excursions, beat tapes, and a recent (and frankly, must-hear,) collection of house edits that put an entrancing four-to-the-floor bump under some iconic rap songs from Nas, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and more.
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