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TCIYF (South Africa). Photo courtesy of the band.

20 Black Punk Bands You Need To Listen To

Punk's not dead, and these 20 black punk bands from North America, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mozambique, Brazil & more prove it.

40 years ago, punk rock spread around the world with bands like The Clash and The Ramones gathering a cult following and creating a scene in which kids who didn't fit in found a community.

Punk rock started in the U.K. and the States as a movement against the establishment—a way for working class kids to fight back through music and culture, no matter their lack of technical skills or financial means. Today, most of the remains of that period can be found in museums and it seems like most people have forgotten what the movement was all about.

Black punks stand out like a sore throat and their presence can be questioned. But, in reality, they've been present from punk's heyday with artists like Bad Brains, National Wake and Poly Styrene making history.

Black punks, if anything, are some of the last vanguards of a punk movement that's been co-opted by the mainstream. They fight two battles: to create their own space inside their punk communities, as well as inside black culture.

Black punks have to reconcile these cultures, and are thus more authentic, rebellious, bold and not afraid to be involved politically.

Punk's not dead, and these 10 black punk bands show it.

Listen to our Black Punk playlists on Apple Music.


Meet Me @ The Altar (USA)

Created by women of color, the three-piece indie pop punk band Meet Me @ The Altar was formed in 2015 with members hailing from different parts of the USA. Inspired by bands like Paramore and Movements, their music has attracted a loyal fanbase, as their songs are uplifting, encouraging listeners to be themselves, cut toxic relationships and be free from society's expectations. Their new EP, Bigger Than Us, was released earlier in 2019.

Big Joanie (UK)

Big Joanie is an all-female riot grrrl and afro punk trio from London. They recently released their single "Crooked Room" on their own label Sistah Punk Records and are currently touring in the UK.

Formed in 2013, by Stephanie, Kiera and Chardine, these girls don't shy away from their number one objective: making music for black punk kids and creating a space where they can be represented. Chardine is an activist and recently dud a TED talk on the rise of the alternative black punk scenes, "How Punk music can turn you into a Black Feminist."

Punk was created to fight against the establishment. Yet, ironically enough, racism is pretty well established in certain areas of the punk scene. By fighting against this racism and creating more visibility for black rockers, Big Joanie is one of the most punk bands around, in the original sense of the word.

TCIYF (South Africa)

You'd never guess what TCIYF stands for: The Cum In Your Face. If that alone didn't give you a hint, this thrash punk band from Soweto is even more hardcore than its name.

The four members are part of a skate collective called Skate Soweto Society. They created the band as a rejection of popular South African music genres like hip-hop or kwaito, which they felt didn't represent them. TCIYF had things to say, a system to reject, and forming a punk band was the best way to do it.

TCIYF play some of their gigs wasted. Their music videos, like "Church Wine," openly mock South Africa's heavy Christian culture. Their lyrics are as raw as they are are brutal and the band seems to always stays true to their spirit. They don't surrender, they don't compromise, and that's all the beauty of TCYIF. We're still waiting on the band's first album.

Danny Denial (USA)

The Seattle-based queer punk artist Danny Denial made waves when he released his visual album Dethheads U.S.A. and the accompanying EP Dead Like Me in 2018. It features a music video where a group of white people kidnap a torture Danny and his band; leading him to barely escape and kill one of them as an act of self defense. In the punk scene where race is never mentioned unless someone happens to not be white, the video was triggering for some. Nonetheless, Danny Denial has a promising career ahead of him as he is also the singer of the band Dark Smith. His new single, "Am I Cool Enough For You Love," was released earlier in 2019.

Maafa (Brazil) 

The project of Afro-Brazilian artist Flora Lucini, Maafa is a 6-piece punk band, mixing hardcore with rhythms of the African disapora. Unapologetically Black, the name comes from a kiswahili terms describing a "greater disaster" akin to holocaust, slavery, colonization and global systemic oppression of Black people. Their first self titled demo was released in 2017.

Pleasure Venom (USA)

The 5-piece Austin-based punk band Pleasure Venom is led by singer Audrey Campbell. The unapologetically black band is not afraid of being political with singles like "Seize" and "Deth," inspired by the death of Tamir Rice. Their lyrics tackles multiple subjects, including racism, sexism that black people and POC face in their everyday lives. But their music is not just about serious issues: they don't shy away from also celebrating life and for everyone who doesn't fit in to find joy wherever they can. Pleasure Venom performed at the first black and brown punk festival in Austin, Texas, created by Xingonas in the Pit. Their self-titled EP was released in 2018.

Crystal Axis (Kenya)

One of the first Kenyan punk bands, the Crystal Axis quartet was formed in Nairobi in 2009 by a group of teenagers. They released their EP State of Unease back in 2012 and have gone off the radar ever since since. Very little is known of this cult band. One of their members, Neel, has been spotted in Mexico while the others remain dormant in Kenya, despite pleas by their fans to release more music. Their alternative punk music is dark and energetic, and the band strictly follows the DIY ethic of punk, from mastering and making their own music and visuals, to recycling their instruments. Crystal Axis might be gone but not forgotten. They were part of a scene that gave birth to a new wave of Kenyan punk bands.

Whole Wheat Bread (USA)

Inspired by Bad Brains, the veteran punk band Whole Wheat Bread was formed in Florida in 2003. They released their first album in 2005, Minority Rules, and after going through different line ups, released their second album Hearts of Hoodlums in 2009. They toured with Yellowcard and The Bouncing Souls and worked with Lil Jon on the song "I Don't Give a Fuck". From lyrics calling out the police to talking about heartbreak, their music has attracted a cult following (while selling unique merch with messages such as 'I Love Black People'). They released a long-awaited follow up to their first EP, Punk Life 2, in 2016 and have been touring since.

The Brother Moves On (South Africa)

The Brother Moves On hails from Johannesburg. Formed in 2009, their music is an intricate mix of " Electronique Maskandi, Ninja Gospel, Afrikan voodoo pop" with a dash of punk. They use performance art during their live gigs to spread their message and aren't afraid to tackle economic and political issues in their music. In their conceptual EP, Golden Wake, the members staged a funeral to address the meaning of personal value and South African society's obsession with money.

Red Arkade (USA)

Hailing from Queens, the 4-piece heavy rock and punk rock band Red Arkade is fronted by Ziggy Royal. They released Limewire, their first EP in 2016, establishing their unique sound, heavy and rough with raw vocals. The band is part of a thriving black punk scene in New York, with bands like Killer of Sheep, The Bandroids and blk Vampire. Their last EP, We Don't Sing Too Pretty, was released in 2018 as well as their single, "Cocaine."

The OBGMS (Canada)

This self-proclaimed garage party punk band's name stands for the oOohh Baby Gimme Mores. Founded in 2007 in Toronto, The OBGMs released their first EP, Interchorus, in 2009 and a self-titled debut album in 2014. The OBGMs make the perfect music to mosh and jump on people to. That might explain why Budweiser used their songs in a commercial, getting the band a surge of popularity in their native Canada. The band members are pretty close to their fans, and their live sets are known for their disorganized choreographies.

The Txlips (USA)

The Atlanta based fusion punk band The Txlips is entirely made of black women and led by singer and guitarist Gabriella Logan. The band was created when she met William, the drummer, as they played for Diamond (the former member of the band Crime Mob), showing how diverse the group's influences are. Their existence alone is a symbol of black women breaking the barriers the industry puts on them, especially in rock music. Their debut EP, Queens of the New Age, was released in 2018 and they have been touring internationally since.

340ml (Mozambique)

340ml is one of the most popular Mozambican bands. The quartet started inp 2000 in Maputo and has since moved to South Africa. They created their own record label to distribute their music and have now signed artists like Bongeziwe Mabandla. The band has released two albums, 2004's Moving and 2008's Sorry for the delay.

They've also been featured in Keith Jones and Deon Maas's documentary Punk in Africa,which retraces the history of punk bands on the continent. 340ml's music is a mix of ska punk, jazz and reggae with an exquisite feel-good vibe that makes you want to forget about your problems and jump around (which is also pretty punk).

Rebelmatic (USA)

The New York based punk band Rebelmatic, whose name has been inspired by Public Enemy, was created in 2008. Inspired by Black Sabbath, The Deftones and Bad Brains, they describe their music as "James Brown in a moshpit," mixing punk, hardcore and hip-hop music and escaping the strict barriers of what punk or hardcore music is. They released their last EP, Eat the Monster, in 2017, which was inspired by the children's book Where the Wild Things Are.

Fuck U Pay Us (USA)

Led by Jasmine Nyende, the 4-piece Californian band Fuck U Pay Us was created in 2016. Their song "Nappy Black Pussy" is an anthem to black women and their sexuality. It's as punk as it gets, with lyrics like, "suck my nappy black pussy." Their rage against various systems of oppression and raw vocals make their music the perfect outlet for black women to release their rage. The band was viciously attacked in England in 2017 by a racist and sexist man, triggering an outpouring of support from fans worldwide. After taking a break from touring, they are back and working on new music.

General of Monrovia (Canada)

Formed in 2015 in New Westminster, Canada, the Generals Of Monrovia might be the babies of this list, but they're probably the ones that stand out the most for their visuals and concept (think of an indie punk version of the Gorillaz).

The concept of the band is that, after being granted immunity, the last three surviving Generals of Monrovia—represented by band members General Sokah, General Fee and General 55—have dedicated their new-found freedom to recording and performing punk rock. Sounds like a rad program.

The Generals released their first self-titled EP last year and have been touring in their home country since then. Their music belongs to the alternative punk category, as do their lyrics, which call out the fake-ness of the music industry and hipsters.

Mona (Mozambique)

Information on the pop punk band Mona is scarce. We know that the trio hails from Maputo, Mozambique and is composed of drummer Goro, singer and bass player Mel Vicious and Monace, the group's female guitarist. They sing pop punk songs in Portuguese and English. The rock scene, let alone the pop punk scene, in Mozambique is small. As a result, Mona has created a record label to promote rock bands such as White Monkeys. Mona openly sings about the "depressing state of the Mozambique" music scene and how they aim to shake things up.

Chikwata 263 (Zimbabwe)

Chikwata 263 was formed in 2013 in Harare. The quartet is one of the first mbira punk bands, incorporating the traditional African instrument into their guitar-infused music. Their music defies Zimbabwean conventions, creating an interesting mix of culture. They released their first album, Chauya, in 2015 and hope to tour abroad soon.

Black Pantera (Brazil)

Project Black Pantera is a relatively young band, formed in 2014 in Uberaba, Brazil and distributed by Tratore Digital. Their first self-titled album was released in 2014. The trio is composed of Charles, Chaene and Rodrigo, the drummer, who has the interesting particularity of always wearing a mask during their set or promo pictures. A quick glance at their Facebook would be more than enough to reassure you that he's not actually an alien. Project Black Pantera is crossover band: they mix thrash metal with hardcore music and punk.

Holders (USA)

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the three-piece punk band Holders are adept at DIY punk and make what can be best described as "emotional noise." Not much is known about the band, who is pretty elusive. Their first project, sorry, taylor konnerman, was released in 2016.


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Twice As Tall World Tour. Flyer provided by Atlantic Records.

Burna Boy Announces 'Twice As Tall' World Tour Dates

The Nigerian star will be playing shows across North America and Europe this summer.

Burna Boy is hitting the road again.

Following the celebrated release of African Giant—which came with nominations at both the Grammys & BRIT Awards and a trophy for Best International Act at the BET Awards—the Nigerian star will be embarking on a long run of shows that will take him across North America and Europe.

The Twice As Tall World Tour will kick off in May in Atlanta, and will see Burna Boy playing concerts across the US, Canada, Norway, France, Portugal, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and more locations.

You can check out the full tour dates for Twice As Tall World Tour below and revisit Burna Boy's performance for Okay Acoustics.

Tickets are available now.

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Angelique Kidjo performs onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

'Take Africa Out of It and There's No Music for Y’all,' Angelique Kidjo on Success, ‘World Music’ & Championing New African Talent

OkayAfrica caught up with the legendary Beninese singer following her recent Grammy win and her feature on the collaborative electronic track 'Milambi.'

Last month, Angelique Kidjo won her fourth Grammy in the 'Best World Music' category. But it wasn't quite like every other year she had been nominated for the award. This time she shared the nomination with fellow African act Burna Boy, the first artist of the continent's current afropop scene to earn a nomination. While there's no question that Kidjo, who won for her 2019 album Celia, was beyond deserving (this was by no means a Kendrick-Macklemore scenario), Kidjo made the conscious decision to dedicate her award to Burna and urged viewers to pay attention to the wealth of new talent coming from the continent. "The new generation of artists coming from Africa are going to take you by storm and the time has come," said the artist.

Her vocal support for African talent isn't new though. As Kidjo notes, she gave a similarly memorable speech when she won four years ago for her album Sings, and she sounds fierce and impassioned as she speaks about it over the phone. After all, Kidjo has always been notably forward-looking in life and in music—experimentation doesn't scare her. Her latest work is on a futuristic, electronic project from Swiss DJ and producer Pablo Nouvelle and she expresses excitement about the novel methods in which African artists are creating and amplifying their music.

We caught up with Kidjo following her latest Grammy win and the release of her joint single with Nouvelle, "Milambi," to discuss her support of the new crop of talent emerging from the continent, fame, the controversy around the 'Best World Music' category, and remaining true to her identity in a Western-oriented music industry.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Grammys were a big moment. Why did you decide to dedicate your award to Burna Boy and acknowledge the new generation of up-and-coming African artists?

I'm always in contact with my continent. I go back on a regular basis, and that's where my source of inspiration is from. Throughout the years going back and forth, I've been seeing the entrepreneurship of the young generation coming up. When I started music—there was none of that. You just went to the studio, and you found people to help you do your music. Now you can be a self-producer. I have nephews and nieces, and I'll just say "Ok, what's new? Let me listen to the new stuff." And I just realized that the rest of the world has no clue about what's happening in Africa.

Four years ago, when I received my Grammy for the album Sings, I said "Brace yourself, because Africa is coming. You have to open your heart, your mind and ears to listen to what is going on and what is coming from the new generation of my contient"— I said that four years ago, and the time has come because [with artists like] Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, Yemi Alade and many more from Nigeria, and Sho Madjozi from South Africa—you have so much happening culturally in Africa. I have the feeling that sometimes people just completely turn their head away from Africa and I just wonder how one could possibly turn their head away from where they come from, because Africa is the cradle of humanity. Culture comes from there—there's no music on this planet that doesn't have Africa in it.

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Is this why you've chosen to work with a lot of younger artists from the continent like Yemi Alade most recently?

I'm so proud of this new generation of musicians that are using the technology to tell a positive story about Africa. It's no longer about our suffering. Everybody suffers. So, why should people be focusing only on our suffering and not seeing just the human beings that we are, and how joyful we are? Then suddenly, you realize that joy becomes political because if your society, your people are perceived as joyful, then a leader cannot complain anymore that something is wrong. Beyond all that, [I do it] to pay tribute to the entrepreneurship of the young generation. They aren't waiting on help from anybody. If you are famous in your country and on your continent, there's nothing that can stop you. You have billions of people that will love you, so why should the rest of the world look aside when you're passing by? They should pay attention.

That's why I use my platform to bring the attention of the media to this new generation coming. They don't want to be caught by surprise because I've been telling them to pay attention. If something happens, and they don't pay attention, at least I've done my work.

I do think it's really amazing how new artists have been able to gain traction and put their music out despite their not being a lot of support by African leaders for creative industries. Do you think that African governments, and the folks with money should invest more entertainment?

I think they should because we create jobs. People make money, and it's not only the artists. There's also the people helping them make videos, or cut tracks—music creates jobs.

I think we have to educate our leaders and our business people in Africa. Who can carry their brand better than us? Who are the best ambassadors of our cultures, our countries and our continent? It's us artists across different forms of art, from painters, to storytellers, to people in theatre and movies. Every form of art is about telling the story of ordinary people and the people that have come before us. How do you know about your own history, if not for the elderly people that tell you the story of who you are?

In order for us to tell our story, we need to have a voice. We need to say it through different mediums. Music is one of them. We shouldn't let anyone else tell our stories anymore. That time in history has passed. We have new narratives, we have proof of how entrepreneurial we are. Africans can make money in Africa and anywhere else. The world is open to us—the world is ours. No one can stop us.

So many African artists look to you as an inspiration and a model for longevity in the music industry. I'm wondering which artists served that role for you when you were first coming up.

There are many, many of them. I would say it started with traditional musicians because I was a very curious child. I come from that background of traditional musicians telling me stories through songs. [Growing up] my brothers were playing music, my father brought the instruments for them, and freed a room in a crowded house for them to rehearse. I heard every genre of music in the '60, '70s and '80s through them, but my role models start with traditional musicians, both male and female. [But at a certain point] I noticed that every album that would be brought home had just men on the covers. I was like, "Okay, so women don't sing? They can't do albums too?" Then you had Western women start coming in and I was like, "Okay, at least some women are making it through [in the industry]."

Then Miriam Makeba came and Aretha Franklin came. The day Aretha Franklin came, the singer of my brother's band—who had such a fucking ego, you couldn't even put it anywhere—said "there's no song I can't sing." [But] Aretha came and he couldn't sing. I'm like, "What? A woman is whooping your butt. I like that."

So, there have been strong men and women as musicians that have informed the music that I make today. The only way I could absorb it and make my own music, and become a role model to others today is because I am proud of my culture. I know where I come from, I'm not trying to copy anybody because everybody copied what we have. There wouldn't be any music in America without the input of enslaved people that came from Africa. The blues came from slaves. It doesn't matter how hard the slave owner wanted to dehumanize us—they even took the drum away from us. But we had many ways of celebrating culture. We had many ways of celebrating our humanity—singing was one of them. We sing our pain to lift it up. We sing our joy to share it with people. That's what African music is. The essence of what music is comes from that place. We've seen it all, we've been through hell, yet here we are prevailing still.

"I have to be able to sing my songs till I die."

You've always championed African culture and identity, whether it's through singing in Yoruba, or representing Benin through various endeavors. Did you at any point, ever face pressure from the industry to tone down your "Africanness" to appeal to certain audiences?

They have a saying in my country, that "the advisor is not the payer." [It's about] what you do with the advice people give you. I'm always listening, I'm always ready to sit and hear constructive criticism. But if you want to critique for the sake of criticizing me—I've heard some journalists say that I'm not African enough in France because my music sounds too Western. I said, "What is the music of the West then? Tell me." Take Africa out of it and there's no music for y'all.

For me, I respect everybody, particularly the differences because there lies the genius. We all don't think the same.

People said, "Why don't you show your titties?" I'm like, "Well, I don't feel like showing my titties because my titties ain't singing. My voice is not in my breasts." You've got to be somebody, and I am African. I come from a rich culture. Why should I change to look like what? What do you want me to look like? I've never ever allowed anyone to say to me, "You can't do this." I have fought some producers that try to change my music. I say, "If that's the case, you take the microphone, you sing, it's not mine, I'm out of here." You have to stand for something. If you are afraid of not making it, then you become a fool to somebody.

People will say what they want to say. If I want to dress differently, I do sometimes. When I received the NAACP award, I wore a suit. A well-tailored suit, and I kill it too in a suit. It's not what you wear, it's who you are.

I always say, if anyone wants to work with me, I'm open. The bridge I'm trying to build, everybody's welcome on it in the respect of each other's differences. My strength might be your weakness, and then I supply. My weakness might be your strength. It goes both ways. I don't have the answer to everything, but one thing I know is that if we stop bitching at each other and blaming people for all the things that aren't good in our life will be better off because when we start doing that, what do we do? We create fear, and fear is dangerous.

I wanted to ask you about the controversy surrounding the Best World Music category at the Grammys. Many believe that it doesn't truly encompass the diversity of music coming from the continent. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Don't underestimate the recording academy. They have been thinking about it way before this. It's a conversation that we're going to be engaging in. Africa is not a country, it's a continent. The Latin Grammy exists. We should have the African Grammys too, because it's a continent, because it's vast, it's huge. So, it's a conversation we started having because the academy is also realizing this, and they are, at least, having that conversation. Right now, if you look at the "French Grammys" coming up, there's not one person of African descent [represented]. Not one. They just completely ban what is called "world music" out of it and we're in the 21st century. So, I think criticizing is one thing, finding solutions is another.

Let's work with the recording academy and find out how we can help to come up with something that works for everybody. That's all I'm about. I'm always about solutions. The thing is that we also need to recognize that we cannot be discriminating when it comes to culture. If we don't speak to each other, and we're always blaming and pointing fingers, there's no conversation possible anymore. We should have an open discussion about this and be creative about it. That's all I say.

Speaking on shifting genres, you recently worked with Pablo Nouvelle on his new project Eliso, I saw it described as your "maiden venture into electronic music." What was that experience like for you?

I started with electronic music. If you ask David Byrne, he would tell you that my first album, Logozo was completely electric, but African electric. So for me, working on this album brings me back to the beginning and, I'm not done doing that. I'm going to do it more.

So, we can expect a lot more of this electronic sound that you've already been working on?

I'm not saying anything.

We can't have a hint?

No, nothing, because I always follow my inspiration. If my inspiration changes a little bit, I have to change [my direction].

You just go with whatever feels right?

I have to be able to sing my songs till I die. All my songs, if I can't sing them, with just my voice and a guitar, it means it's not good. When writing a song, less is more because if you add too much stuff, then you kill the song. You're overstating it. Do the minimal. If it feels good to you, and you can sing it in your sleep, wake up dancing to it, and you can feel it in every beat in your body, it's right.

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Sarkodie "Bumper" (Youtube)

Watch Sarkodie's New Music Video For 'Bumper'

A dance-heavy clip for the Ghanaian star's turn-up single.

Sarkodie comes through with the energetic new dance video for "Bumper."

The new track is a high-octane affair that sees the Ghanaian star rapper delivering some standout rhymes and flows over an afro-fusion leaning production from Nigeria's Rexxie.

The new video for "Bumper," which was directed by Monte Carlo Dream, follows a group of dancers as they show off their moves inside a barbershop.

"Bumper" comes after the release of Sarkodie's latest album, Black Love, which features the likes of Donae'o, Idris Elba, Efya, Mr Eazi, Stonebwoy, Tekno, Maleek Berry, King Promise, Kizz Daniel and several other artists.

OkayAfrica spoke with the artist in November, following his win for Best International Flow at the BET Hip Hop awards. "[The album] is just about love amongst black people and it's 90 or 80 percent based on relationships," he said.

Watch the new music video for Sarkodie's "Bumper" below.

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Ayanda Jiya Pays Homage to Her Love for R&B in Latest Single ‘Lover 4 Life’ Featuring Stogie T

Watch Ayanda Jiya's music video for 'Lover 4 Life.'

On first listen, "Lover 4 Life" could be mistaken for a song about a person Ayanda Jiya is in love with. But pay close attention, you'll pick up she's paying homage to the artists who inspired her as a child, and she uses them as an entry point to tell the story of how she fell in love with music and chose the career path she's currently pursuing.

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