This month’s Bandcamp Friday selection of independent artists include anime-and-J Dilla-obsessed beatmakers, airy and layered R&B mavens, and so much more.
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 cue, 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 worthy of your ear and support. This month’s selections include anime-and-J Dilla-obsessed beatmakers, airy and layered R&B mavens, subterranean rap renegades, and so much more.
Comb through our picks for March’s Bandcamp Friday. You can either listen to us, just pick a random album. Choice is yours.
Nearly six years in the making, Carlitta Durand returned in late November of 2020 with a sophomore stunner in Kismet Green. Rallying Durand Bernarr, Aarik Duncan, and fellow North Carolinian, Phonte, the singer showcases her airy and layered strain of R&B across a range of spacious and ear-worming suites that will surely remain in rotation.
If you need a long scroll of swing-heavy funk and soul chops, Thelonious Martin‘s back catalog won’t’ disappoint. The anime-and-J Dilla-obsessed producer has more than three dozen drops to comb through, including several installments of tributary tapes dedicated to the late Donuts maestro. And his latest is an absolute triumph.
Flower in Bloom
Another North Carolinian songbird with an ear for zapped R&B grooves, Flower in Bloom has established a stout, yet stellar, portfolio. The singer released her sophomore EP, Floral Essence, just weeks ahead of the pandemic’s onset, and earlier this week, delivered her first single of the calendar year, signaling a full-length debut just might be on the horizon.
One of a handful of producers keeping NYC’s ongoing rap renaissance weird and wildly entertaining, Wavy Bagels can be heard on a number of the city’s subterranean standouts over the last few years. With 14 glitch-heavy tapes to explore, the Queens-based producer’s Bandcamp page is a trove of (mostly) instrumental SP-404 wizardry batched into several themed series with no wrong angle of approach.
A relative newcomer, Myko Lyric capped 2020 with her debut project, 618. Warm, experimental, and slightly off-kilter, the LA-based singer’s first outing is high-grade synth-specked R&B and soul with a cryptic afterglow that’ll keep you locked in until the next dispatch.
The Koreatown Oddity
Koreatown Oddity might not need an introduction in these pages, but with the more than a dozen albums under his belt (from solo releases to joint projects with the late Beat Scene pioneer, Ras G,) the Stones Throw rapper’s deceptively deep catalog could be due for a reexamination. His kush-crushed 2020 outing, Little Dominiques Nosebleed, is a great place to work back from.
If you’re not yet familiar with the gorgeously gritty work of Armand Hammer, there’s no time like now to dive in. In 2020, the duo (comprising rappers Elucid and billy woods,) released what was arguably the best rap album of the year in Shrines. And they’re getting this year started with Haram, an upcoming collaborative album with Alchemist. Revisit Shrines below and hold tight for their next transmission.
One half of B. Cool Aid (with Pink Siifu) and a prolific producer in his own right, Ahwlee has assembled one of the most gratifying catalogs on Bandcamp. From collaborative projects to solo instrumental tapes, the LA-based beatmaker has something for all creeds. Hear his latest project, VII, below.
Klevah and T.R.U.T.H. began releasing music together as Mother Nature back in 2016. But last year, the Chicago rap duo entered a new phase with the release of their debut full-length project, Portalz. Rife with mind-expanding bars and shades of boom-bap, the album is a not-so-quiet stunner. And their latest single, “MOMENTZ,” glimpses a needed and necessary vibrance.
Flipping between jagged bars and soul-stirring hooks is no easy business. But on the entrancing debut album, Startisha, Naeem wears all the hats, effortlessly pivoting over booming suites that range from dancefloor-daggering house to trunk-rattling trap.