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Get to Know Ray BLK, the British-Nigerian Winner of BBC Sound of 2017

Ray BLK, one of our 10 UK artists to watch, is set to take over 2017.

Ray BLK, one of our 10 U.K. Artists to Watch in 2017, recently won the BBC Sound of 2017 poll.


On the five-strong shortlist were also Jorja Smith, Rag’n’Bone, Raye and Nadia Rose, who also features on OkayAfrica’s list.

Ray BLK, whose real name is Rita Ekwere, was born in Nigeria but moved to London when she was four.

She grew up in Catford in South London, a place she's said her friends have described as a “ghost town,” but to her has been a source of pride and material for her music.

Her latest 7-song project, Durt, released in October last year is tight and focused, and over which The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill figures are a presiding spirit.

“50/50,” an instructive pairing of song and video, is a compaction of steel and brittle as she informs a suitor who is too busy “selling food” to pay her adequate attention. The video, more than the song, is strongly indicative of her working-class roots, which she appears to either revel in or present as found.

Other videos so far released are “Chill Out,” alongside SG Lewis, which features a powerful presentation of Jamaica’s much maligned gay and transgender community and “My Hood” with Stormzy, whom she became friends with after appearing at the same talent show a year before both artists rose to prominence.

Previous winners of the BBC Sound Of the Year poll have been Adele and Sam Smith.

Music

In Conversation with Ray BLK on Self-Acceptance, the Come Up and Touring Across the Pond

OkayAfrica catches up with British-Nigerian R&B artist, Ray BLK, and recaps her successful North American tour and more.

Speaking with Ray BLK right after her first North American tour is like catching up with a best friend—similar to how she relates to an audience on stage. During her tour, the South London R&B artist performed four intimate (and sold out) shows in Toronto, LA, DC and New York City bringing a new level of honesty to her clear, emotional voice and lyrics.

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Audio

10 UK Artists to Watch This Year

Here's 10 Black British artists to keep an eye out for this year.

Last year saw us lose game-changing artists like Prince and Sharon Jones amongst a slew of other tragedies, including the election of a racist, misogynist and unqualified US President. Nonetheless, in such a testing climate music has the ability to question, re-focus and bring up for debate issues affecting us all.

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Style
Image courtesy of Riveriswild

#BuyBlack: The 8 Black-Owned Brands To Shop For On Black Friday

It's that time of year again, here is OkayAfrica's 2019 gift guide for you to #BuyBlack this Friday.

You know we're near the end of 2019 once the holiday season comes back around. Thanksgiving is upon us and the bargain shopping and gift-giving is set to commence thereafter. Despite this American holiday being questionable in of itself, Black Friday is a prime occasion to highlight, support and spend exclusively with black-owned businesses.

Just like we mentioned last year, let's keep the 'for us, by us' energy going. Even beyond the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, tap into the businesses that continue to contribute to wealth-building, development and employment in Black communities around the world.

Here is OkayAfrica's curated shortlist of black-owned brands to take note of this Black Friday—including some standout home decor, fashion, skincare and beauty brands you should know.

Take a look below.

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'Queen & Slim' soundtrack cover.

Burna Boy Samples Fela's 'Shakara' on New Track, 'My Money, My Baby' From 'Queen & Slim' Soundtrack

The film's official soundtrack also features tracks from Lauryn Hill, Blood Orange, Megan Thee Stallion and more.

The official soundtrack for Queen & Slim has arrived, and it features a standout solo track from none other than Burna Boy.

"My Money, My Baby" is a heavily Afrobeat-tinged track that features a prominent sample of Fela Kuti's 1972 song "Shakara." The pulsating track also sees the singer, channeling Fela's signature talk-style of singing and repetition. Check it out below.

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