The world is pretty fucking wild right now huh? The protests happening across the nation are a confirmation of what we’ve already known: that Black people’s lives are valued less and constantly under threat. The protests are a great example of people once again saying enough is enough and it’s way past time to start making the long systemic change needed. As my partner has astutely pointed out, this time this murder and protests feel different. People are more actively engaged in supporting the protests than I’ve seen in my lifetime. Do the work and make sure this marks a starting point for systemic change. Myself included.
I do not mean that firing and charging police officers should be seen as the final end goal. These actions rather should serve as the foundation for making the wider systemic change of actually valuing black people’s lives. Support the protests and support the movement now and donate to any of these on the ground organizations, but make sure you’re ready for the next step. I am not saying I’m an expert and know exactly what that is; I am a white, cishet man so for me that means education and support. I’ve been lax in this department in the past, I’m looking to make up for that by starting with these book recommendations.
That also starts with supporting black creators. Art is important not because it enacts political change, but that it could enact change. It can be both frivolous and important. Art is both a cultural artifact and entertainment. Art is also not a meritocracy; there is a long history of black creative erasure. Make no mistake, all music genres would not exist without Black artists (especially rock n roll). Therefore it’s important to support Black creatives not because you can get something from it but because it is by itself valuable. In other words, don’t expect every piece of art to radicalize you like the book recommendations above. Not every piece has to be educational, informative, or even political; it is not their burden to always impart some sort of message. Support their work because you enjoy the medium and you want to show that their work matters just as much as white creators.
As an ally it is essential to elevate the voices and art of the Black community. Dance music is the one place where I can actually make some good recommendations. Electronic music can often be seen as hegemonic, lots of it’s more famous producers being white. Dance music comes from Black culture and its extremely easy to obfuscate that fact. Here’s just a few recommendations of amazing Black artists that you can support. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Note this list is of modern producers, but never forget the absolute black legends that have left an indelible mark.
AceMo & Moma Ready, AceMoma
I cannot speak of these two highly enough. Both producers have an absolutely astonishing rate of output with a supremely high hit rate. They make amazing music both separately and together. Their music ranges from jungle, dnb, to house and it’s all fire. I want to talk about both of them separately, but wanted to at least highlight their great collaborations:
Moma Ready got a lot of traction with “The NYC Dance Project,” a collection of impeccably produced house music, but it’s an outlier amongst the rest of their output. Their productions are much faster, primarily jungle, with a bit of a lighter touch. It recalls the warm feeling of early dnb productions; high bpm with its heart on its sleeve. This doesn’t mean they don’t put out absolute beatdowns or stir away from darker productions though.
AceMo’s tracks could be categorized similarly, but their recent releases take in cyberpunk themes and recall early rave music. They have a knack for extremely catchy melodies and my two personal favorite releases, Existential and Mind Jungle, really show those off. For my money, nothing can beat Mind Jungle which pairs fast breakbeats with a stunningly gorgeous synth line. It constantly reverberates throughout my head.
Self-proclaimed “Queen of Hell” put out one hell of album this year, the appropriately titled “BXTCH SLAP.” It’s 13 tracks of tough productions, taking in everything from techno to trance and ambient. Don’t let that description deter you; these tracks have lots of life and take lots of unexpected twists and turns. As with other artists on the list, her live sets take in more influences chock full of house, footwork and other sounds. Also check out New World Dysorder, the trans music collective she’s a part of, for more great music (especially the Cali Rose mix).
Bending gender and club music, produces and mixes some of the most fun party music imaginable. His mixes veer wildly between genre and tempo, with a frenetic energy at their core. He blew up with the release of “Body Mods,” a collection of the best club edits of pop songs you’ll probably ever hear.
You like quick transitions and high BPM? Then Shyboi is the DJ for you. Her ultrafast sets are absolutely crushing in the best way possible. She takes a gloves off approach to djing with a wide appetite for genre. She specializes in dance floor catharsis and her style brings the energy. Shyboi and the rest of her peers on the Discwoman roster are what make underground dance music so special.
Another uncompromising, high-energy dj. Juliana Huxtable’s mixes pack hard dance music stylings with unpredictable transitions and cuts. The seamlessness only adds to the fascination; you’ll be left wondering how she wound through so many different styles without missing a beat. Pure dance floor euphoria through aggressive and hard tracks.
Russel E.L. Butler
The former Bay Area resident is revered for a reason. Their productions range from jacking house and acid eps or more experimental lps that take in jazz and downtempo influences. They’re not afraid to slow it on their mixes and bring in non dance music genres. They’re your producers favorite artist and for good reason.