9 Black Electronic Musicians You Should Be Listening To
Featuring DJ Lag, Spellling, Nozinja, Klein, LSDXOXO and more.
We know that Black queer DJs from the Midwest are behind the creation of house and dance music. Yet, a look at the current electronic scene will find it terribly whitewashed and gentrified, with the current prominent acts spinning tracks sung by unnamed soulful singers from time to time. Like many art forms created by Black people all over the world, the industry hasn't paid homage to its pioneers, despite the obvious influence they have. Thankfully, the independent music scene is thriving with many Black acts inspired by their forefathers and mothers who are here to revolutionize electronic music. Here are a list of the ones you should check out:
LSDXOXO makes radical, sex positive, upbeat music that has attracted a cult following over the years. His style is known for being an eclectic mix of sounds like baile funk, house, and ghettotech—its music one can't quite escape. And, contrary to many of his peers, LSDXOXO doesn't stir away from mixing mainstream tracks. You can frequently hear samples from Massive Attack to N.E.R.D. to Kanye in his work. Pop culture and the queer scene remains sources of inspiration for LSDXOXO, from political speeches to TV theme songs, as a way to make music that says something. You can listen to his newest release here.
The Soweto-based South African producer and DJ Nozinja ran successful phone repair shops before changing careers, when he noticed the enthusiasm and popularity of Shangaan electro. The music genre is a mix of Tsonga disco, Kwaito house and township dances. He describes it as "people moving as if they have no bones." He has worked with artists such as Tshetsha boys and Vuyelwa. Nozinja is well known for producing fast- paced music that heavily rely on South Arican drums, traditional chants and house track bits.
The Nigerian DJ and singer grew up with a father who was a DJ, listening to Whitney Houston, TLC and Celine Dion. She went on to carve a space where her sound would allow her to talk about topics close to her like parenthood and mental health. DJ Yin's low tempo music is a mix of house, EDM beats, R&B, classic Nigerian music and hip-hop. Her song "Kilimanjaro," about depression in Nigeria, is laid bare on a slow tempo, with added voices from different artists and regular collaborators such as BankyOnDBeatz. She has recently created The Listen To Me foundation that helps depressed people to be heard.
The American singer Spellling makes electro pop music that is slow, haunting and psychedelic. She draws inspiration from her dreams and the outer world—from death and light to queerness and the legacy of slavery. Inspired by Bjork, and Kate Bush with a twinge of Coco Rosie, the talented artist plays most instruments and writes and produces her records herself. Her music has reached the subtle and fairly complicated point of being both soft and provocative, ethereal and violent, like a perfect soundtrack to the complicated times we live in. For Spellling, there's magic everywhere and it's worth showing it through music.
Singer and producer G.rizo lives between Vienna and Lagos and started her career in New York. Her music is fast paced, a smart mix of funk, dance, house and dub that makes it impossible not to dance around. G.rizo raps and sings withs the kind of energy that makes her sets unforgettable. She has been active in the underground scene since 2003, working with artists such as Donovas and Alexander Robotik.
Nicknamed the Gqom King, the South African DJ is one of pioneers of the buzzing genre. Born out of the ashes of Kwaito, Gqom is a mix between house music and techno with minimalist, bass heavy sounds. Gqom's spectacular rise to the international scene propelled DJ Lag's career. It was rap that first attracted DJ Lag, as he snuck out to go to clubs as a teenager, producing instrumentals and dancing bengha. He then started to produce Gqom tracks, creating a sound internationally known for being dark, haunting, and hypnotic.
The British-based self-taught producer and singer Klein started making music as a hobby. Her sound is a mix of R&B, experimental, ambient music and random audio samples. The music she creates is truly like nothing else, a way for her to express herself. Unsurprisingly, fellow artist and singer Arca is a fan. Klein pushes experimentation to the extreme with time stretching, which is noticeable with songs like "another dust," from her new album Frozen, released in 2020, a reflection on death and friendship.
American DJ Akua's music is experimental and raw, with deep bass lines and throbbing beats; it's like a question mark taking the listener on an unknown adventure. She regularly mixes old '90s house samples with acid tracks.Inspired by the techno scene in Detroit and the work of Juan Atkins and Derrick May among others, she became frustrated by the fact that there were so few Black women DJs in the scene and became part of the collective Discwoman.
The Nigerian DJ is the daughter of DJ Tony Lewis, which undeniably influenced her growing up. Her music is a mix of techno, dance, afropop and house,. She had somewhat of a traditional upbringing as she began her career working in radio and then started touring and playing in clubs. Her sound is chill, dancy and takes the listener on a feel good journey. Her new release, A Tale of Two Cities, shows a shift in her music, as its heavily influenced by afrobeats and afro house.
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