How to Support Black Artists on Bandcamp This Juneteenth
Check out these up-and-coming names in indie rock, hip-hop, and R&B.
Bandcamp keeps on proving they're one of the very best, most supportive platforms for artists in the music industry. The music discovery platform and streaming service was founded on an artist-first approach, allowing independent artists to see a greater profit from the music and merchandise they sell on the site than they would have from a more traditional approach, and lately, they've done even more to make good on that promise. To help artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, they waived their share of sales on March 20 and have since continued to do that on the first Friday of every month. Now, they're making a greater commitment to supporting the Black community.
On Juneteenth this year, Bandcamp is donating their share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund -- and they plan to do the same every Juneteenth after -- in addition to allocating $30,000 a year to donate to an organization that focuses on fighting for racial justice. The decision came in early June, in light of the recent killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in response across the US.
As many of us are making efforts to support the Black community right now, opening up your wallet to up-and-coming Black artists on Bandcamp is a great way to help out those struggling in the music industry. While you can and should support Black artists every day -- especially considering all popular music is derived from Black art and culture -- Juneteenth is a great day to put a little more money into their pockets. In case you don't know where to get started with your browsing, here are some of our favorites with recent releases who you should be sure to check out.
Dua Saleh is an R&B/hip-hop powerhouse hailing from the Twin Cities, and they recently crafted the astounding ROSETTA EP that's in part an ode to Black rock music pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, drawing parallels between their experience and the rock icon's, based on their queer identities and history defying a religious upbringing. While the work is an homage to Tharpe, it's also a testament to Saleh being one to watch. It's hard to classify their melodic, genre-defying music, other than to say it's spellbinding -- being as dark and seductive as it is heartfelt with verses delving into incredibly specific memories. Give it some time, but Saleh's so good that someday someone might make an EP inspired by them.
Hearing Candace Camacho sing is spiritually cleansing. As duendita, the artist who spends her time between New York and Berlin lets her deep soulful voice leap and twirl even as she's singing through poetic words of pain. The R&B songstress carries the tradition of jazz-influenced singers before her, often singing about colonization and racial justice, as well as faith. On her song "Pray," she sings that she prays for all of us, but upon one listen, you'll find that she has the power to be your salvation.
Moses Sumney released one of the best records of the year with his exceptional double album græ. It's certainly incredibly beautiful, and an essential addition for your record collection. On græ (and in much of his work), the now-Asheville, North Carolina-based artist, who grew up in both Ghana and California, paints a calico masterpiece that unites soul and folk. While his sound feels entirely new, there's an instant classicism to his work that's as if it belongs in a museum like the Louvre, were music put on display there.
Taking up 70% of Earth's surface, the ocean's pretty profound. New York-based artist Oceanator makes art that's also pretty profound in its own right, aiming to answer life's existential questions through her guitar music. The project from Elise Okusami fuses '90s grunge and post-punk with a tinge of surf-rock-inspired guitars to create a sound that pulls at your heart like the tides as she explores heady topics like what it means to be human. Plus, to make your shopping even more charitable, she recently released a collection of covers exclusive to Bandcamp called Tear the Fascists Down with all profits donated to the NYC-based prison abolition organization Survived and Punished. Drown yourself in this nostalgic, gripping noise.
No one shines quite like Shamir. The Philly-by-way-of-Las Vegas artist crafts theatrical music that spans everywhere from lo-fi and rock to pop music fit for the ballroom scene with arty, DFA Records-like beats. It's all seamed together with his distinct, far-reaching voice and commentary on gender that pulls it apart to shreds. Through all of his sounds, you'll find that a sense of marvel in radical self-expression is one thing that's constant. His high-pitched voice will take you there, or, at the very least, drive you to the dance floor where you can move freely.
Whether you're aware of it or not, it's likely you've heard Starchild and the New Romantic frontman Bryndon Cook play. He's a longtime collaborator of Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange) and has appeared all over Solange's work, even touring with the R&B star. His own project is well worth a listen, too -- and given some of the biggest names in the industry back him, you know this is no thin recommendation. His project's name sounds like something out of the '70s; he calls back the disco and funk era immaculatly, fusing it with a taste of '90s R&B. His synth-y music is made for romantics and is exactly what you imagine might play as you look across the club, through reflections of light bouncing off the disco ball, for someone to take home.
On her song "Every Woman," Cameroonian-American singer-songwriter Vagabon sings, "All the women I meet are fired up / They get ready to kill with their luck / Cause we’re not afraid of the war we brought on." It's a rallying cry and an extremely graceful song all at once -- which is what most of Laetitia Tamko's music made under the moniker Vagabon is like. The sentiment of the song is reflected in her own experiences, having left behind a career in computer engineering to fully pursue music -- and thank goodness she did. Her self-titled sophomore album was released last year and is wonderful, so if you haven't spent time with it just yet, it's ready to greet you with its gentle, loving arms.
Yves Tumor's innovative Heaven To A Tortured Mind is another record that's absolutely preemptively secured the title of one of this year's bests. Just when you thought psych-rock had already opened the hard-to-reach spaces of your mind, this American expat living in Italy pushes those boundaries with their pop experimentalism and artfully unfledged guitars and synths. Vibrant and chaotic, they're like a soundtrack to a hallucinatory trip. It's a sound too grand for Tumor to not be a contemporary rock icon in the making.
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