6 BLACK ARTISTS TO LISTEN TO IF YOU DON’T ALREADY
BY BRENESSA ROACH | FEBRUARY 4 2023
Behind The Beat is an organization that believes in supporting, celebrating and giving a platform for every artist out there, which is why in honour of Black History Month, we want to celebrate 6 Black artists that you need to listen to if you don’t already.
Black History Month happens every February and it’s a celebration of Black achievements. It is a time to recognize the central role that Black people play in the history of the U.S, Canada and the rest of the world. It is also an opportunity and a reminder to educate yourself about Black culture and give visibility to the people, organizations and businesses that are creating change where systemic racism still exists. However, it’s important to continue to educate yourself and support BIPOC communities every month, not just in February. If you would like to learn more about Black History Month and the history of it, please read this article.
In no particular order, here are the 6 Black artists you need to listen to:
Ania Hoo is an independent Jamaican-American singer and songwriter. Her genre is an infusion of disco, Afro-soul and bedroom pop with a little bit of R&B. She released her first song “Sunny” in 2018. I came across Ania on TikTok and then I listened to her music and was surprised to see she only has 9K monthly listeners. My favourite song of hers is “Waiting” which is the 5th and last song on her first EP PURE which was released in June 2022. This whole EP is about her personal growth. “Waiting” also appeared in the Showtime TV Series Flatbush Misdemeanors.
Listen to “Waiting” by Ania Hoo on Spotify:
Check out Ania Hoo on Instagram: @aniahoo
Christian is a Kenyan-American R&B/Soul singer who started posting to streaming platforms in 2019 with the release of his first EP Yearlong, which consists of 4 songs. His voice and lyricism is beautiful and he really uses his Kenyan culture to make his music even more special. In fact, his most popular song “Toroka” which has 37 million streams is a song that represents his Kenyan heritage as his father was born and raised there.
“Toroka” is a Swahili term that means to “run away” or “escape”. Christian’s song “Toroka” is about avoiding and running away from issues and fears that you eventually will have to confront. In an interview with The Hidden Hits, he talks about how he has had anxiety most of his life which stems from being Black in the United States and how he sometimes feels like he can escape/ignore it. He took those feelings of wanting to escape and ignore it and turned it into this song that captures the feeling of denial. Overall, in just a little over 3 years, Christian has grown to have 1.9 million monthly listeners but, I wanted to include him in this post because he definitely needs to be heard even more.
Listen to “Toroka” by Christian Kuria on Spotify:
Check out Christian Kuria on Instagram: @christiankuria
KayCee Shakur is a Neo Soul/Hip-Hop artist from Chicago. She started releasing music in February 2018 with the release of “Slide”. KayCee is an artist who writes poetic lyrics and uses music as a platform to share her stories growing up in Chicago and America as a Black woman. Her first album Divination from April 2018 is an album focused around her hometown Chicago but also focuses around Black culture, specifically Nigerian culture. Her song titles are named after goddesses in Yoruba religion, which is one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. Her most streamed song on this album is titled “Yemoja”. Yemoja is the goddess that is the mother of all Yoruba Gods and is celebrated as the giver of life (Source: Britannica). Diving into KayCee’s music was eye opening as I got to research and learn about different Nigerian ethnic groups and religions that I didn’t even know existed prior to listening to her.
Listen to “Yemoja” by KayCee Shakur on Spotify:
Check out KayCee Shakur on Instagram: @itskayceeshakur
Juto is an American singer signed to RE7AX Records, which is in association with COR/TAN Records. He has a lo-fi R&B and pop musical style. He made his debut in September 2016 with “Bang Bang”, which is a collaboration with DJ SPACE KID. In 2018 he released his first EP Text Talk which consists of 4 songs that explore love and longing for someone through text messaging culture. In March 2019, Juto released his first album Velvet which consists of 7 songs. The most popular song (and my personal favourite) is titled “Wayback” and it has 3.6 million streams. “Wayback” is a song about love and it has a very nostalgic feel to it.
Listen to “Wayback” by Juto on Spotify:
Check out Juto on Instagram: @lovejuto
Niiasii is a soulful, singer-songwriter and guitarist from Virginia, United States. She started releasing music during the pandemic with the release of her debut EP The Art of Changing Form. This EP is a reflection of the things that were happening in her life, that essentially shaped her to who she is today. I came across Niiasii with the song “I Wanna Get Out”, which is the first song on the EP. It’s a song that describes her feelings of being stuck and wanting to escape and kind of live life not trapped inside her home. Following the release of The Art of Changing Form, she released an 8 song album titled Exuviated in 2021. She has not released any new music since then but, I am staying hopeful that she will release something soon.
Listen to “I Wanna Get Out” by Niiasii on Spotify:
Check out Niiasii on Instagram: @Niiasii
This New Jersey based artist, Topaz Jones is an amazing and creative singer-songwriter who mixes hip hop with soul and funk. In fact, I was really drawn to his music because of his funk style. Additionally, he is actually the son of the funk guitarist Curt Jones who played in the bands Slave and Aurra. Topaz’s music is really special because he shares the stories of his life experiences growing up Black, his mental health, and how he heals from past traumas and navigates through his journey of self-acceptance.
These stories can be seen with his visual album Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma which was released in April 2021. This is an album that also has an accompanying 35 minute short film which shares the education and lessons of Black history and Topaz’s Black identity. This Sundance Award winning short film was co-directed by Topaz Jones and the New York based directing duo rubberband. Listening to this song and watching the documentary really educated me about the Black ABCs which originated in Chicago in 1970. The Black ABCs were flashcards of the 26 letters in the alphabet and each letter was associated with imagery and language that reflected the lives of Black children. 53 years later, the Black ABCs is a historical symbol of racial identity and a symbol of empowerment through education. In this short film, Topaz Jones explored his own Black identity by updating each letter and continuing to show through education that Black life is valuable. I really love how Topaz Jones has shared his story through his music and this short film. He is an artist that is so creative and uses his platform in the best way possible. I recently discovered his music through the song “Black Tame” which is his most streamed song on the album. Going forth in his musical journey, I’m very excited to support him.
Listen to “Black Tame” on Spotify:
Check out Topaz Jones on Instagram: @topazjones
You can find all 6 of the songs mentioned in this article on our Spotify playlist below: