It may be a new year, but the pandemic is still as much a part of our lives as it ever was. Which 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. After a month off, the artist-friendly streamer has announced the return of their feeless Friday campaign, waiving their cut of purchases and 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 musicians 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. For the first Bandcamp Friday of the year, we’re spotlighting projects from hardline and experimental rappers, jazz-brained songwriters and composers, and even an R&B misfit or two.
Comb through selections for February’s Bandcamp Friday below and tune in next month for another batch.
After trading features on each other’s recent projects, Brooklyn’s own maassai and JWords have joined forces as H31R. And Velocity, the duo’s first drop under the collaborative moniker, lives up to its name, threading jagged production with high-voltage penmanship on a heavy and cerebral 12-track outing.
Between modeling, rapping, and a professional skateboarding career, Navy Blue has managed what few artists can. At just 23-years-old, the Brooklyn-based do-it-all is firmly planted at the nexus of all his passions. And he capped last year with Song of Sage: Post Panic!, hosting yasiin bey, Maxo, billy woods, and Zeroh, on the most expansive collection of his thoughts yet.
One of the most elusive figures in subterranean rap for nearly two decades, billy woods has outpaced a good grip of his contemporaries. But on his latest project, the New York-based is building gale-proof bridges across generational lines, teaming with Philly experimentalist, Moor Mother, on the brooding and entrancing collaborative album, BRASS.
There’s an energy to DijahSB‘s music that can be hard to place. But on the Toronto rapper’s new project, simply titled, 2020: The Album, it’s precisely that elasticity that shines, gliding over beats of varying fidelities with a cool and comfortable confidence that’s instantly infectious.
Over the last two years, ANKHLEJOHN has not-so-quietly strung together one of rap’s greatest streaks. He capped it in late 2020 with As Above So Below, a sprawling and steel-toed fit of ferocious wordplay and dusty soul loops, featuring appearances from Navy Blue, Fly Anakin, Pink Siifu, Wiki, and more.
R&B has been in dire need of some grounding melancholy as of late. And it seems Kaiya Crawford sensed that as well. The LA-based singer and songwriter’s new project, How Are You Feeling Now?, mines the moment and offers a proper introduction over slinky, galaxy-brained melodies and neck-aching swing.
AMANI may not be at the top of your radar just yet, but it’ll only take one run through the Sun Ra rap odyssey that is An Unknown Infinite, the Brooklyn artist’s new project with King Vision Ultra, to make you a believer.
Another rapper releasing tapes at an unthinkable clip, Hus KingPin has turned in two back-to-back banner years. And it doesn’t appear he’ll be easing up the output anytime soon. The New York rapper commenced his 2021 run with a project inspired by trip-hop pioneers, Portishead. But in a catalog that’s dozens of drops deep, there’s no wrong place to start and there’s no chance of keeping up.
Drummer and percussionist Susie Ibarra covers a ton of ground on her latest album, Talking Gong. Across the nine-track project, the compositions range from spastic and explosive to almost sedative and ambient. And if you’re looking to expand the couch-locked rotation with a dynamic and immersive instrumental album, Talking Gong won’t disappoint.
With bits of fusion funk and breezy R&B melodies abound, FELIVAND‘s abbreviated set, Nerve, may just be the quarantine & chill score for the back-half of the pandemic era.
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