Photo by David Corio/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

LONDON - MAY 8: Earl Hudson (R) and Dr Know (L) of Bad Brains on May 8, 1987 at Lancaster Gate, London, England.

6 Iconic Black Punk Bands You Should Be Listening To

These black 70s punk bands pioneered new sounds, creating many of punk music's best songs.

Punk music is well-known for being anti-conformist, encouraging people's self-expression and pushing DIY artistic forms.

Despite that fact, most classic and well-known punk bands tend to be mostly white and male. It's a direct erasure of the black and brown punks who paved the way for the genre back in the 1970s and whose influence on the sound is undeniable.

These black bands listed below are so well known that they barely need any introduction.

However, it's never too late to listen to classics and pay your dues to bands who've inspired a generation of punk lovers and helped black kids who stood out in their punk scenes feel like they belong. Because they do.

Read about 6 Iconic Black Punk Bands You Should Be Listening To ahead.


Formed in Detroit in 1974, Death is made up of three brothers, David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney. Their music was pretty much funk-influenced in the beginning, until seeing a show by The Who inspired them to switch to punk. They released a few singles between '74 and '76, among them the famous "Politicians In My Eyes" b/w "Keep on Knocking."

In 1975, they started recording an album but were dropped by their label because of their name, which the label wanted them to change because they thought it was a deterrent for the mainstream scene. Death, however, didn't give in to the pressure.

The band eventually disbanded and their members moved to other pastures. In the late 2000s, the band got a renewed public interest after some of their songs, namely "The Killer of Killers" and "False Positive," were featured in TV shows. They released two albums in 2009 and 2011.

Death are considered the fathers of the afro-punk genre, which saw a resurgence in NYC in 2005. The group was the subject of the 2015 documentary A Band Called Death, directed by Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett.

X-Ray Spex

X-Ray Spex were formed in 1976 England by lead singer Poly Styrene, who was inspired by The Sex Pistols. Their 1977 single "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" put them at the forefront of the punk scene in England, among the likes of Wire, The Clash and The Buzzcocks. Most of their material was anti-capitalist and feminist, calling out mainstream culture and the pressure put on women to conform to its standard.

They released their first album, Germfree Adolescents, in 1978. X-Ray Spex is considered by many as the precursor of the riot grrrl movement. Poly Styrene left the band in 1979 to start a solo career. In 1995, the group reformed briefly and released its last album, Conscious Consumer. Poly styrene is the focus of the upcoming documentary PolyStyrene: I am a cliché, co-written by her daughter Celeste Bell.

Bad Brains

Formed in 1977 in Washington D.C. as a reggae and funk band, Bad Brains quickly took a more punk route infused with influences from Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and Black Sabbath, as well as with more intricate melodies than those commonly used in punk.

After being banned in 1979 from playing at many clubs in their hometown, they relocated to the more punk-friendly New York City. Their self-titled first album was released in 1982 and nine others have followed since. The band released their most recent album, Mind Power, this year. Bad Brains is the focus of the 2012 documentary, Bad Brains: A Band In D.C., directed by Ben Logan and Mandy Stein.

Bad Brains played the OkayAfrica offices in 2017 with their original lead singer, H.R., Check out photos from the performance here.

Check out Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer's art show "Mind Power" which also ran at Okay Space in 2017.

Pure Hell

Formed in 1974 in Philadelphia by Kenny "Stinker" Gordon with Michael Gordon, the band is hailed as the first African-American punk band. Pure Hell only released one single, a cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walking" b/w "No Rules." They got some international recognition after touring in the UK. Their only album, Noise Addiction, was released in 2005 by Welfare Records, after the awesome band was rediscovered The band reformed recently to perform with Death in the US.


Started in 1979 Los Angeles by the Fisher Brothers and their friends, Fishbone's sound is a fusion of ska, punk and funk metal. Later on, their sound became more soul infused. The band released their first album, In Your Face, in 1986, which has been followed by six others. Columbia Records signed them in 1983 and they've toured as the Beastie Boys' opening acts.

Their album Truth and Soul brought them mainstream appeal and featured songs that tackled subjects of poverty, racism and nuclear issues. They got dropped by their label in 1995, as some of the members were leaving the group. After being dropped again by Hollywood Records, the group took a fully-independent route in 2001. The band is the focus of the 2010 documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, directed by Chris Metzler and Lev Anderson and released in 2010. They're the only band on this list that's been thoroughly active since its conception.

Dead Kennedys

Created in 1978 in San Francisco, the group has one black member, drummer D.H. Peligro who joined the band in 1981—but I guess it's enough for them to get a place in this list. Like Death, their name attracted controversy, forcing them to use pen names at some of their gigs.

Their first album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, was released in 1980. The band took a more hardcore approach to its lyrics, directly calling out individual politicians, the mainstream music industry, capitalism and racism. The band created the DIY record label Alternative Tentacles in 1979, but they'd gotten increasingly exasperated with the punk scene becoming more violent in the 1980s. The band broke up in 1986. Three members, including D.H. Peligro, reformed Dead Kennedys in 2001 without lead singer Jello Biafra, who's done everything to separate his image from the band who, in his opinion, have sold out and betrayed the values they were supposed to stand for.

Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele, Arrested for Throwing Party During Coronavirus Lockdown

Naira Marley, who was also in attendance, has also turned himself in according to local reports.

Star Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, rapper JJC Skillz, were arrested on Monday after hosting a party at their home which violated Lagos' coronavirus lockdown order.

The actress came under fire over the weekend, when footage of a party she threw for her husband's birthday began circulating on social media. The clips showed several people, including fellow Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus and Nigerian rapper Naira Marley, gathered inside of Akindele's Lagos home. According to a report from Pulse Nigeria, Marley also turned himself in on Monday for attending the function and will be arraigned.

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Screenshot from YouTube.

Watch Champagne69’s Music Video for ’15 Goons’

Champagne69 release a music video for their single '15 Goons.'

South African hip-hop duo Champagne69 shared a new music video for their single "15 Goons." The song was produced by NotBenjamin alongside Ezechiel (SorryZeke).

"15 Goons" is a minimalist 808 and bass-laden tune in which the duo glide with ease as they pay homage to their goons.

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