For Black History Month as part of Black Gold Arts Festival, two artists; Sovrano and Bitez from our new Level Up cohort have curated a list of five black artists you need to check out. Alongside that, they’ve created a Spotify playlist for you to listen to!
As a Ghanaian & Guyanese producer/rapper from Manchester, Sovrano takes inspiration from multiple genres, even it’s something small like a specific hi-hat or sound from a melody. His music is a mix of chill UK trap sounds delivered by the likes of SL & Clavish, and deep introspective Hip Hop style shown by artists such as Mick Jenkins and Mac Miller. Sovrano uses his art as an expression of current and past thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Check out the playlist of black artists that Sovrano’s music is inspired by, here.
Some songs contain explicit language.
Top Five Artists:
This Kilburn rapper has a unique style. Taking the prominent drill sound and adding a jazz aspect to it demonstrates his versatility and his ability to approach various types of beats in his projects. He touches on various real-world topics, making you look at them from another perspective while maintaining the bounce and vibe on every song. His most recent album London Class, shows his experience growing up as a black boy in London. Knucks talks a lot about the things he’s seen growing up and the reality he’s been exposed to as a black youth.
Brittney Carter is a must-listen for anyone who is a fan of conscious hip hop/rap. Through her music, you get a direct view of her mindset as she rolls through this journey of life. You can see she has taken inspiration from artists such as Joey Bada$$ and other masters of the genre, as she brings that same 90s aura to her tracks. Carter is well on her way to becoming one of the queens of the hip-hop scene. Her 2020 album As I Am presents an unmatched swagger that is synchronised with her powerful and soulful lyrics, clearly demonstrating a deeper level of knowledge on her history as a black woman.
Ghanaian musician Kwesi Arthur, born in Tema, is steady on his rise to the top of the Ghana music scene with his inspirational and meaningful lyrics about growing up with less and changing his circumstances for the better. Bringing illuminating energy to every song, he has gained recognition from some of the heavyweights of the Ghanaian music scene, from the likes of Sarkodie and Shatta Wale. He is well on the way to following in their footsteps and becoming one of the biggest artists to come from Ghana.
This South London artist displays an incredible level of versatility in his music. Showing an equal level of finesse and skill in different genres, he leaves no stone unturned. He’s able to deliver hard-hitting bars or do something more melodic. His lyrics are very expressive no matter what approach he takes sonically. His unpredictable and unorthodox style is a key indicator of his longevity, showing that he is here to be a part of the music scene for the long run, he continues to experiment with different sounds, as demonstrated in his recent album The Worst Generation.
Born and raised in Croydon, the musician provides very reflective and introspective lyrics. A2 has an atmospheric sound that you can imagine being performed in a large concert space like the O2. His latest album Just So You Know, is one of those long drive albums that you turn on and just let play, bringing soulful energies and sounds. You can see he’s certain of his talent, delivering a nonchalant bravado so subtly that is difficult to execute if not natural to the individual. A2 is not new to the music scene but doesn’t get the deserved recognition for the quality of his music, of which, a lot has been self-produced.
Bitez is a British Jamaican-born Nigerian Neo-Soul and Psychedelic R&B Singer-Songwriter from Manchester. She fuses Jazz Rap, Funk, and Spoken Word into her futuristic and surreal tracks, Bitez is also a poet, songwriter, and filmmaker. In 2020, she became one of the six winners of BBC Words First. She is a self-described ‘revolutionary’ and utilises her music for spiritual healing and activism. Her influences include Erkyah Badu, No Name, Solange, Brent Faiyaz, and FKA Twigs.
Click here to listen to Bitez’s Spotify playlist.
Some songs contain explicit language.
Top Five Artists:
Ego Ella May:
Ego Ella May is a self-taught Neo-Soul and Jazz Singer-Songwriter from South London. Ego’s name originates from her parents’ Nigerian culture and means ‘my love is greater than money’ while Ella May is the English name used by her friends. Her music is stunningly profound, smooth, and calm while touching on activism, culture, and her subjective reality. Ego Ella May’s music is often dreamy, layered, narcotically addictive and ambient. Her lush honey-like vocals consolidate her tracks, culminating in an innovative and experimental amalgamation of R&B, Soul and Jazz. Notable tracks: Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys, In the Morning and Give a Little.
Lous and The Yakuza:
Marie-Pierra Kakoma, known professionally as Lous and the Yakuza, is a Congolese-Belgian singer, rapper, songwriter, model, and artist. Her music blends Trap, R&B and Pop. Lous’s music has been labelled ‘silky’. Her music is vulnerable, spiritual, and pop culture-infused. Lous’s music and style muses include FKA Twigs and Erykah Badu. She rose to fame after the release of her debut single Dilemme. Her lyrics are dark, self – reflective and poetic. She is one of the most exciting and unique artists coming out of Europe and you don’t have to understand French to enjoy her music. Notable tracks: Dilemme, Solo and Bon Acteur.
Michael Samuel Kiwanuka is a British singer-songwriter and record producer signed to Polydor Records. His music is a kaleidoscope of Rock, Soul, Blues, Funk, R&B and Jazz. Michael Samuel Kiwanuka is a genre-bending genius with hard-hitting lyrics and immersive chord progressions. All his tracks are philosophical, poignant, and authentic whilst being foot-tappingly brilliant. Notable tracks: Hero, Cold Little Heart and Home Again.
Devonté Hynes, publicly known as Blood Orange is an English singer, songwriter, producer and director based in New York City. Devonte Hynes is from Ilford, East London. He has written, performed, and produced for artists such as Solange Knowles, FKA twigs, Haim, Florence and the Machine, The Chemical Brothers, Harry Styles, and Mariah Carey. His music is alternative and bounces between Alternative Indie / Electronica. His voice is exceptionally soft yet majestic. Notable songs: Charcoal Baby, Chewing Gum and Jewelery.
Brittney Denise Parks, widely known by her stage name Sudan Archives is a self-taught violinist and vocalist. Sudan writes, performs, and produces her music. She is inspired by Sudanese fiddlers, African music and Irish music. Her eclectic tracks mix contemporary R&B, Classical and experimental Electronica. Sudan Archives is a breath of fresh air, with her sweet girlish tone and dynamic sound she charms listeners. Sudan Archives’ music is inspirational, filled with proclamations of self-love, black futurism and gentle wonder. Everything she creates is grand, lavish and artistically exceptional. Her notable tracks: Nont for Sale, Come Meh Way and Confessions.
Level Up aims to provide opportunities to emerging musicians to produce, promote and perform their own music on a professional level. Keep an eye out on our socials for what Sovrano, Bitez, and other Level Uppers get up in the next few months.