Bandcamp’s no-fee Friday returns, just when musicians need it most. Here are 20 independent Black artists you should think about supporting today.
Expanding on what is already the streaming landscape’s most favorable slice of revenue shares, Bandcamp is waiving its fee yet again today. With its inaugural installment accounting more than $4 million in sales (the largest single-day sales in the platform’s history,) and the follow-up nearly doubling that, the artist-forward streamer is providing a singular opportunity for artists to grab the whole bag at a time when non-marquee musicians of color are reeling from the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
To help you wade through the pages and projects that have aided the slow but steady transformation of the independent music landscape (and frankly, to get black artists paid,) we’ve mined the Bandcamp archives to compile a starting point for novice digital cratediggers, a landing zone for anyone deepening their excavations of the platform, and a quick primer on some of the prolific talents sharing their labor of love.
musicians- send your bandcamp link. working on something for friday.
— baby zoda🌹 (@zogotsoul) June 2, 2020
Ahead of the publishing of this piece, I put out a call to musicians via Twitter, hoping to be put on to tapes and voices I’d yet to encounter on the streamer for #BandcampFriday. The response was overwhelming, the work expansive and dynamic. Anyone looking to supplement what they hear in this space can refer to that thread for even more selections. #BandcampFriday will return on July 5th. And if there’s anything left of us or this country at that point, we’ll be sending up another haul for Black artists right around then.
Stay safe, stay calm, and if you can manage it, stay positive. There’s a whole lot of work ahead. And we need your best.
If You Want Bars
A do-it-all ATLien, Tha God Fahim has a gift for ghostly loops and weighted wordplay. His latest album, After Every Dark Day Comes Sunshine, dropped last month.
One of the many pillars of NYC’s new rap and R&B vanguard, Brooklyn mainstay Maassai cuts up dense synths and dusty soul with equal force. She just dropped a short EP called unsounded points of view today.
New York City rapper MIKE is another buzzing inner-borough beat-bruiser. He contains a touting, winding wisdom and a penchant for jagged suites. Check out his excellent tears of joy album from last year.
A frequent sparring partner for a number of artists on this list, the Brooklyn-based AKAI SOLO is always full-float, threading spacious productions with kush-calibrated poetics and galaxy brain bars. Released in February, Ride Alone, Fly Together is one of the more slept-on projects to drop this year.
If You Want Beats
Picking up where Knxwledge left off, Omari’s tape campaign is a mile-long scroll of hazy blends, staggered drum programs, and polyglot processing. His last tape, luvlee [pt.14_B], dropped in May. Expect another one soon.
New to me — but maybe not to you — Virginian dynamo btgddss can cook with just about anything in the pot. After taking a a couple of months off, she dropped a quick tape last week.
The catalog may be stout, for now, but Jersey-based producer JWords is quickly becoming a principal architect of New York City’s rap renovation, lending spacious programs and ace sample-stitching to the city’s new guard. Check out Year 2300 which dropped last month.
With more than a dozen projects to date, Bay Area beatmaker ovrkast has built a hefty arsenal of spacious, far-reaching instrumentals. His latest tape, Try Again, dropped back in January.
If You Want Melodics
LA-via-Dallas transplant Liv.e has been building an entirely new future for soul music for the better part of three years. Inching towards the release of her debut album, there’s no better time get acquainted with her excellent back catalog.
No stranger to these pages, DMV artist Starchild & The New Romantic has toured with Solange, Blood Orange, Chairlift, and the gamut of R&B’s border-breakers. His own work melds a paisley and purple pedigree with a lo-fi funk that’s entirely of his own design.
Fresh off the release of a stunning debut, Forever, Ya Girl, Chicagoan singer and producer keiyaA is swiftly becoming one of R&B’s most soothing and sobering voices.
A Dwele for the post-J Dilla age, Miami-bred musician Devin Morrison injects his compositions with breakneck swing and velvety hooks. His new project is Bussin‘, which dropped back in April.
If You Want Experimental
Versatile beyond measure — and nearly impossible to define — Pink Siifu has become a virtually ubiquitous presence in the weird, wild, and, wonderful world of left-leaning rap. Check out his latest album, NEGRO, which is basically punk record.
A not-so-quiet organizer of New York City’s rap and R&B revival, Nelson Bandela’s palette is as broad as it is deep, ranging from bleary, minimalistic house heaters to rugged, sample-heavy compositions fit for densely-stacked bars (occasionally they’re his own.) He has dropped a couple of projects since, but we highly recommend his Sexiest Ugly Nigga Alive mixtape released in January.
A perpetual force in the evolution of electronic music and the unheralded influence of Afrofuturism in its maturation, Seattle-based producer and songwriter SassyBlack is a cornerstone of subterranean music scenes on both coasts.
Somewhere between jazz, punk, and Dallas, Jon Bap has carved out a singular lane with twisted hooks, jolting changes, and slinky, brain-busting guitar work.
If You Want Jazz
Standing on the Corner — New York City’s stalwart jazz misfits — blur lines, cadences, and progressions with polyrhythmic poise and a profound reverence for the city’s lineage of top-tier musicianship.
Across three stellar solo releases, Dallas-raised drummer and producer Blaque Dynamite struts his range and devotion to dismantling the barriers between genres and eras.
Another regular in New York City’s prestigious jazz scene, Kassa Overall has been devoted to careful explorations of the increasingly vast cross-sections between hip-hop and jazz.
Jamael Dean, the latest Stones Throw signee, is a native Angelino with jazz royalty in his veins, honoring the genre’s regal past, grey present, and star-searching future in a rich continuum of tempered keys and shifty movements.