AFROPUNK Presents

AFROPUNK Atlanta

787 Windsor

Saturday, October 12
12:00 doors / show

Set Times:

SAT, OCT 12, 2019, 12:00 PM – SUN, OCT 13, 2019, 11:30 PM EDT
For Daily Lineups & more info visit https://afropunk.com/festival/atlanta/

All Ages
  • Price$50 - $110
Tickets

Anderson.Paak

More than just a detail, the “.” in Aftermath’s Anderson .Paak’s name is a shot fired, putting the world on notice of an artist unlike anything the twenty-first century has ever seen. With a soulful essence harkening back to some of the most iconic voices of the seventies, yet embodying a raw uniqueness fully present in the now, the acclaimed singer/rapper/drummer/producer has managed to successfully alchemize a cross-section of musical styles – R&B, hip-hop, and dance – into a solid, undeniable, irresistible “genre-less sound.” A rabid worldwide fan base, praise from a host of critics at outlets including Rolling Stone, Billboard,New York Times,Los Angeles Times, and Pitchfork, and electrifying appearances on Ellen, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring artists on the music scene today. Born Brandon Paak Anderson in Oxnard, California, as a teen he played drums in his church band and later famously worked at a marijuana farm, all while honing his musical chops and in pursuit of his dreams. And while shining glimpses of his extraordinary talent were evident in his first incarnation as Breezy Lovejoy, it was fully realized in his transformation into Anderson .Paak, with his debut album Venice and a stellar six-song run on Dr. Dre’s certified Gold COMPTONalbum, that stoked anticipation for what would be the perfect storm of his sophomore release, 2016’s Malibu. A seamless tsunami of soul-stirring, body-shaking, infectious and deeply-personal songs with features by ScHoolboy Q, The Game, Talib Kweli, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Rapsody, also with first-class production by 9th Wonder, Dem Jointz, Robert Glasper, Kaytranada, Madlib, Hi-Tek, and more, the album was a sonic wonder, met with universal rave reviews. .Paak won the 2016 Grulke Prize at South by Southwest, received Grammy nods for Best New Artist and Best Urban Contemporary Album, nods for the BET Hip Hop Award’s Best New Hip-Hop Artist and the NME Award’s Best New Artist, won the Soul Train Music Award’s Best New Artist, Album of the Year at Gilles Peterson’s 2016 Worldwide Awards in London, and Malibu was certified Gold in Europe. His monster hit Come Down was delightfully inescapable, heard in several popular television shows and major commercial campaigns for the NBA and Nike, and Am I Wrong?reached the #1 spot on Billboard and Clio’s Top TV Commercials chart after being featured in the Google ad “Joy Ride by You, Phone by Google.” Later in 2016, as part of the duo NxWorries with collaborator/producer Knxwledge, came the release of the album Yes Lawd! (the title echoing Paak’s signature phrase), a hit with critics and fans alike that reached #3 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart. In his relatively short career, the prolific .Paak has self-published over 100 songs to market. In 2017, he established the nonprofit organization, .Paak House, committed to creating safe havens for the next generation and cultivating alliances with like-minded nonprofits for a greater united impact. .Paak has also acquired impressive list of collaborations including acts such as Mac Miller (whose song Dang!featuring .Paak was certified Gold), Chance the Rapper, Rapsody, A Tribe Called Quest, and his band The Free Nationals, a steady stream of requests to work with some of the industry’s most renowned artists, and an instant hit Til It’s Over, heard in the Spike Jonze directed commercial “Welcome Home” for Apple’s HomePod starring FKA Twigs, as well as a monster single in “Bubblin” that saw a Jimmy Kimmel Live! Performance and won him his first GRAMMY for Best Rap Performance in 2019. .Paak also made his debut SNL appearance performing “Tints” as well as “Who R U?” off his recent album Oxnard, his third LP and first on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment. The album marked a career high for him debuting as the #1 Independent album in the country according to Billboard as well as debuting at #5 on the Rap chart, #6 on the Hip Hop/R&B chart and #11 on the Top 200. The phenomenal album was executive produced by Dr. Dre and features the likes of hip-hop legends Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, J. Cole, Q-Tip, and Pusha T. Following the album’s release, .Paak has been on a sold-out tour in both the US and Europe, with fans anxious to see his energetic and captivating live performances.

FKA Twigs

London-based artist FKA twigs creates some of the most critically acclaimed, genre-bending work of her generation. Following her debut EP1 and EP2 releases, her debut album LP1 was released in August 2014, followed soon after by a third EP titled M3LL155X. twigs has proved herself to be not only among the most creative recording artists working, but also an exceptional performer and director, leading The Guardian to name her ‘simply the most adventurous popstar working today’.

Brittany Howard

“I turned thirty and I was like, ‘What do I want the rest of my life to look like?,’ “ says Brittany Howard. “Do I want to play the same songs until I’m fifty and then retire, or do I do something that’s scarier for me? Do I want people to understand me and know me, do I want to tell them my story? I’m very private, but my favorite work is when people are being honest and really doing themselves.” As the frontwoman and guitarist for Alabama Shakes, Howard has become one of music’s most celebrated figures—the band has won four Grammys (out of its nine nominations), and she has performed everywhere from the Obama White House to the main stage at Lollapalooza, where she sang with Paul McCartney at his invitation. But for her solo debut, Jaime, Howard boldly decided to explore new directions, with diverse instrumentation and arrangements and intimate, revelatory lyrics. “It’s scary to mess with success, because the Shakes are doing so good,” she says. “But I needed to shake it up—and if you’re going to do that, you better go all out and make it worth it.” Howard had amassed a bunch of ideas and song scraps, things that felt like they were outside the realm of the band. Her plans weren’t clear for these incomplete tracks, which were mostly recorded alone on her laptop and given temporary, random titles—making it challenging to even locate them later. “I wanted to do something on my own, just my music, that didn’t have to have a genre or stick to fans’ expectations,” she says. “I knew I wanted to do a record, but I didn’t know where to begin. I was freaking out, I didn’t know what to sing or what it would sound like. I was writing every day, putting all this stress on myself, hoping something would happen.” In search of inspiration, Howard left her home in Nashville and went to Topanga Canyon for a change of scenery. “I was staying in this beautiful place and I was miserable because the songs just weren’t coming,” she says. When she eventually went into engineer Shawn Everett’s studio in Los Angeles to record, she only had a handful of finished songs. But once she started working with the band she had assembled—a core group of Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell (“We’ve known each other since we were kids,” she says, “so working with another bass player seemed ludicrous”), innovative jazz-based keyboard player Robert Glasper, and drummer Nate Smith—Howard started to feel the music taking shape, sometimes out of their playing and sometimes simply out of conversations. “I had forgotten some of these songs even existed,” Howard says with a laugh. “’History Repeats’ took forever to mix because it’s the original from my Logic recording, which I had recorded vocals on just to show my friend how the program worked and then forgot about it. The vocal on ‘Run to Me’ was recorded on a cell phone!” The work Howard has done with her side bands, Thunderbitch and Bermuda Triangle, also impacted her ambitions for the songs on Jaime. “The Shakes do a cycle of recording and touring, and then I get restless in the time off,” she says. “Actually, to me, there is no time off—I’m a creative person and I need to create or I just feel weird, not fully human. “With Bermuda Triangle,” she continues, “I learned about raising my own voice. The other girls had their own songs, they could just play them on an acoustic guitar and they didn’t need a band. My music is really composed, with lots of moving pieces, so that inspired me to really pay more attention to what I write and try to be a better songwriter.” Different sounds and approaches started to emerge. Howard plays all the parts on “Short and Sweet,” while “Presence” sees her accompanied only by a harp. “13th Century Metal” grew out of Glasper and Smith jamming in the studio—“I heard that and knew I had to do something with it,” she says. Even more striking, though, are the stories Howard is telling on Jaime, the deeply personal and emotional territory she covers directly and nakedly, stripped of overtly poetic distance. She confronts harsh truths about relationships in songs like “Baby” and “Tomorrow” and examines spiritual ritual in “He Loves Me.” Howard points to “Georgia” as a breakthrough song on the project, and for herself. “That’s a straightforward love song to another woman, which is something I never confronted until I was older,” she says. “In a small town like where I come from, different is bad—I never wanted to be different. My greatest wish was to be like everybody else. I didn’t want to be almost six feet tall, didn’t want this big, bushy hair. That’s the truth of what it feels like to hold everything in and just want to be accepted for being yourself.” “Goat Head” is a painfully candid account of Howard’s family experience when she was growing up as a mixed-race child in a small Southern town. “It’s a story my mom told me when I was 13 or 14,” she says, “about how it was really hard to have little brown babies, how hard it was raising us. I never saw our town that way, never experienced it because I was too young, but it explained so much about my mom—why she was always so stressed, had so much trouble getting a job. “When I sang it, I instantly felt afraid, embarrassed, vulnerable. I was definitely scared for the sake of my folks, bringing up bad memories, But it is my story to tell—that song was the experience of growing up in the South.” Howard titled the album after her sister, who taught her to play the piano and write poetry, and who died of cancer when they were still teenagers. “The title is in memoriam, and she definitely did shape me as a human being,” says Howard. “But it’s also about me—the people who know me well know how important she is to me.” As the first project to come out under Brittany Howard’s own name, Jaime represents an enormous step both musically and personally. “It’s my first time making decisions on my own, being the captain of the ship,” she says. “It brings up existential questions—why am I here, why do I do this? People think that touring in a band is super-fun, and it can be, but nothing about it is normal. You miss out on a lot of stuff, so I need to make sure I’m doing it for the right reasons.” Howard looks forward to playing these songs live, but is tempering her expectations. “I have no idea what’s going to happen,” she says. “I have to measure my success by the fact that I did something I didn’t think I could do—I knew I could, but I didn’t know if I would. So just the fact that I made it, and gave myself permission to just fuck it up and do some stuff that’s maybe stupid and not cool, is pretty successful. Being a creative person, that’s the most successful thing.”

Danny Brown

“It’s the downward spiral, got me suicidal/ But too scared to do it so these pills will be the rifle.” That’s how Detroit rap phenom Danny Brown kicked off the second verse of the title track to his breakout 2011 mixtape XXX, and his astounding new album and Warp debut Atrocity Exhibition picks up right where that record left off. A thematic sequel to XXX’s hairline-trigger hedonism and despair, Atrocity Exhibition finds Brown ruminating on life after greater success—how things changed, how they haven’t, and how the potential of the future is often irreconcilable with the realities of the present. “I couldn’t tell the story of what happened after XXX because I was living,” Brown explains. “I had to live life to write about it.” Brown began work on Atrocity Exhibition in the summer of 2014, linking up with producer and frequent collaborator Paul White on the bulk of the album’s cuts. “Me and him are the same way,” Brown enthuses on the pair’s partnership. “He’s out there, and I’m out there too. We just want to make music...You never heard nobody rapping over this type of production before. This is not regular rap.” Indeed: Atrocity Exhibition is one of the freshest and boldest-sounding rap albums in recent memory, a sonic swirl inspired by the work of Talking Heads and Joy Division that nonetheless sounds like nothing else from the past or present. Along with contributions from producers like Evian Christ, Petite Noir (who also lends vocals to the world-weary clang of “Rolling Stone”), Black Milk and the Alchemist, White and Brown are absolutely in the pocket on Atrocity Exhibition. The pair fashion laser-beam guitars, gym-teacher whistles, creaking vocal samples, and air-raid drones into the most intriguing take on hallucinatory rap since the heady heights of Cold Vein or Madvillainy. Brown’s fourth studio album is the latest peak in a career full of highlights: over the last decade, he’s worked with a breadth of artists from Purity Ring and Rustie to Schoolboy Q, E-40, and Ghostface Killah. Since the release of Old, he’s contributed the theme song to the hit ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat, hopped on the explosive posse track “Detroit Vs. Everybody” with Eminem, Dej Loaf, Royce da 5’9”, Big Sean, and Trick Trick; this year, he lent his distinctive energy to “Frankie Sinatra,” the first single from legendary production team the Avalanches’ first album in more than a decade, Wildflower. Nothing that Brown’s done in the last few years will prepare you for Atrocity Exhibition,though, which draws a bit of inspiration from the Joy Division song it shares a title with, exploring the alienation that comes as a consequence of living in public. “People see me in public and expect me to be drunk—they think I’m some sort of crazy druggie,” Brown says. “They expect a spectacle, but there’s a lot of downtime and depression that comes with being like that, too.” Brown is above all else an artist known to subvert expectations—and Atrocity Exhibition is no different, as some of the album’s most uptempo tracks are vessels for reflection and rumination. Beneath the honking horns and menacing swarm of “Ain’t It Funny” lies observations on the irony on how Brown’s past relates to his present: “The whole song is about how I used to sell drugs to survive—and now that I’m a rapper I’m doing more drugs. How did that happen?” The chanting frenzy of “Dance in the Water,” which Brown describes as a cross between the Beach Boys and Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina,” might sound club-ready with its tumbling drums and thrilling incantations—but it carries themes on personal renewal, too. “The song‘s about changing and being baptized,” Brown explains on the song’s themes. “You keep walking to the edge of that cliff, but one day you might fall over. You gotta change, and you gotta stop.” Atrocity Exhibition explores some weighty themes, but there’s light amidst the darkness, too. Brown’s sense of humor and party-starting vibe is more than present throughout the record, from the frantic electro-combustion of “When It Rain” to the raunchy travelogue of “Golddust,” the latter in which our protagonist rhapsodizes about twerk-offs and Bloody Marys for brunch over a martial soul sample. Soothed-out smoking anthem “Get Hi” finds Brown taking a literal breather to remind listeners about the finer, more fragrant things in life, while “White Lines” turns a dizzying drug binge into the type of sing-along you’d find on a demented, alternate-universe Sesame Street.
Clearly, Brown has poured a lot of himself into Atrocity Exhibition—an undistilled sip from his creative tap—and as such, the album’s features have been carefully chosen. Kelela lends her snaking vocals to the intriguingly murky “From the Ground,” Cypress Hill’s B-Real delivers “Get Hi”’s languid hook, and Earl Sweatshirt, Kendrick Lamar, and Ab-Soul all convene for the twinkling ominousness of “Really Doe.” “When XXX came out, all of us were peers, and those were the three rappers who were the best,” Brown explains on having the star-packed trio appear on the track. “I felt like we were competitors, they made me want to step my game up. I wanted to put the hottest rappers in the game on there.”
And the intricate wordplay, unmatched storytelling, and lyrical thoughtfulness of Atrocity Exhibition
further cements Danny Brown as not only one of rap’s brightest lights, but one of the most consis tently inventive artists working in popular music right now. The record represents an unbelievabl e artistic peak, as well as a crystallization of an aesthetic that doubles as a definitive realization o f self. “I feel like this is the first Danny Brown album,” he ruminates on the record’s accomplish ments. “Before, I felt like I was trying to fit in—
but for the first time, I feel like I’m making music for me. I know Danny Brown’s sound, and I’m just doing what Danny Brown knows how to do.”

Fever 333

Rhymes and riffs incite more change than bullets and bombs ever could. Not long after the Vietnam War, Bad Brains rallied a Rastafarian punk spirit against the international blight of apartheid and the coked-out corporate greed synonymous with eighties America. Taking aim at endemic and institutional racism, Public Enemy spoke up against the Fear of a Black Planet only four months before Operation Desert Shield descended on the Middle East. Bringing blue brutality to the forefront of the zeitgeist, N.W.A. chanted “Fuck Tha Police,” and Body Count went primal on the whole program via “Cop Killer.” Rising from the same streets that gave the world Dr. Dre and eventually Kendrick Lamar, Fishbone tackled poverty and urged for social justice. The list of sonic rebels goes on and on… In 2018, the United States of America feels ripe for a musical uprising. Divided more than ever in its 242-year history over systemic issues of immigration, race, class warfare, inequality, and misogyny, the time for change is now. The band is The Fever 333. Comprised of vocalist Jason Aalon Butler [ex-letlive.], drummer Aric Improta [Night Verses], and guitarist Stephen Harrison [ex-the Chariot], the Los Angeles trio lock and load gnashing guitars, guttural beats, and brazenly bold bars and then pull the trigger on a hard-hitting hybrid of hip-hop, punk, and activism. “The movement is much greater than the music,” exclaims Butler. “The art is only a contingent piece. We want to make sure we’re just as involved in the activism and actual activation. By no means do we expect other artists to take on this task. Most of the people who made big improvements were either assassinated or just called crazy. We make it ostensibly clear that everything we do is in an active effort for change. It’s about bringing back that socio-political mindfulness. We’re trying to write the soundtrack to the revolution that we know is about to happen.” In the midst of America’s 2017 socio-political upheaval, the singer—a self-described “bi-racial double agent who’s got a black father and a white mother”—could feel the weight “of the divisions we’ve created because of race.” After meeting Travis Barker of blink-182 by chance, he spent Super Bowl Sunday with the iconic drummer and mutual friend producer John Feldman. That day, this unholy triumvirate’s conversation inspired the songs that would eventually comprise The Fever 333’s 2018 debut. “We started talking about black punk rock,” he recalls. “Punk rock and hip-hop are one-in-the-same. They’re always flying the flag of channeling art from discord. Travis and John supported my desire to create something a little dangerous that was subservice: musically and in ethos. We opened the floodgates together.” Around this time, the frontman made a conscious decision to disband letlive., which he founded 15 years before. Equally inspired by the teachings of Angela Davis and the words of “hood prophets” in his native “Section 8 Inglewood,” Butler’s future agenda became etched in stone. “I appreciate my accomplishments in letlive.,” he says. “I wanted to move forward towards a very clear-cut and specific vision. Personally, artistically, mentally, emotionally, and politically, I’m very radical, left-leaning, and unapologetic in what I believe. That’s the only way to accomplish anything, whether contemporary or long-term. letlive. had done what it was supposed to. It was time for a new era.” Feverishly writing, each session yielded more tunes. Last summer, The Fever 333 made their live debut—quite appropriately—on July 4, 2017. They hijacked the parking lot of infamous L.A. staple Randy’s Donuts (Notably, it’s a stone’s throw from South Central where the vocalist grew up). This “Political Pool Party” preceded the storm to come. Every element made a statement—even the lineup. “We’ve got a black guitar player, mixed race singer, and white drummer,” he goes on. “There’s a purpose.” On their upcoming EP, that purpose can be felt loud and clear. Fittingly, their sonic declaration of independence, “We’re Coming In,” culminates on the sharp scream, “We’re coming in, motherfucker!” “It’s about pulling the fuck up at The White House and having a discourse with our current administration and cabinet about how what they’re doing affects us,” he sighs. “The middle class will soon be eradicated. We’re showing face in hopes to create an empathetic capsule.” “Hunting Season” stands among a long lineage of anthems for “people of color versus the authority and that vicious cycle.” “Made In America” ignites a clarion call of buzzsaw riffing, a volley of vicious verses, and another powder keg chant. “This country’s wealth and success were built on the backs of slaves,” he sighs. “We’re all immigrants. It’s about the fucking facts. The people in power benefit from that.” “Walking In My Shoes” doesn’t just title another banger; it serves as the banner for The Fever 333’s activism. The Walking In My Shoes Foundation will host speakers, launch art installations, promote storytellers, and benefit partner charities such as Downtown Los Angeles-based Inner City Arts, The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and more. In the end, the revolution truly starts with The Fever 333. “‘The Fever’ involves self-possessed autonomous human beings spreading an idea of understanding and empathy from one mind to another,” he leaves off. “It’s infectious. Three is the magic number. The strongest shape in geometry is the triangle with its three points. ‘C’ is the third letter in the alphabet. The ‘Three C’s’ are ‘Community, Charity, and Change.’ The people who want to invest in this are as fucking important as we are. By invest, I don’t mean sales or awards; I mean success towards making this revolution a reality. Our generation has so much power. We have these systems in place that are completely fucked, but we’re up next. If we can rally together and cultivate this strength and solidarity, I believe we can be the change.”

Gallant

Born in the nation’s capital, Gallant breaks outdated social archetypes as a male vocalist who wears the duality of raw vulnerability and inspiring strength on his sleeve. His introspective lyrics and superhuman falsetto encaptures multiple generations, all moved by his timeless talents that shape his poetic self- reflection in this attention-deficit society. Labeled as “the voice that will redefine R&B” by NME, the young Los Angeles artist identifies his musicas future soul, bridging contemporary productions with old school songwriting. The first single from his debut studio album - Ology, “Weight in Gold,” was handpicked by the esteemed Zane Lowe as the “Single of the Week” during Apple Music’s widely anticipated launch. Selected to play with Elton John and at the White House, Gallant became music’s worst kept secret, andhis personal project, the ‘In the Room’ original live performance series, attracted household names likeSufjan Stevens, Seal, Patrick Stump, and more. Soon, coverage from publications like The Fader, Pitchfork, and Entertainment Weekly catapulted him into the conversation as the next breakthrough artist to watch.

Smino

After a year and a half on the road traversing the globe in support of his groundbreaking and critically acclaimed debut album, blkswn, Smino, the multihyphenate artist, is ready to embark on something new. Noir is a record about the present, about life now, he says, an experience that is far more complex and challenging. He’s still writing songs every day, but now his songs reflect a changing Smino, one dealing with “adult shit.” Exponential growth is the reward. “I guess growth for me means understanding shit and being able to make music intentionally,” he says. Music runs through his veins; it’s genetically embedded. Smino’s grandfather, father, and mother were musicians, and the rapper and singer began playing drums in his native St. Louis at an early age. After a brief stint at Columbia College and a move back to his hometown, he returned to Chicago where he connected with Classick Studios and released his first two EPs,S!ck S!ck S!ck and blkjptr. In 2017, he dropped blkswn, which Rolling Stone hailed as one of the 40 best rap albums of the year. Noir is about intentional fun. Smino once again collaborated with trusted producers like LBoogie, Sango, and Zero Fatigue member Monte Booker. And songs—with titles like “Klink” and “Tequila Mockingbird”—offer a lighter contrast to blkswn. “If sometimes it felt like I was going off a little too much on my tangent shit, I probably didn’t pick those songs,” Smino says. That brightness permeates the record and inspires Smino’s current outlook. “Just have fun with your fucking life,” he says. “That’s really what I was doing when I was making the record: just having fun and living off my own confidence.” Honesty gets at the heart of Smino’s new music. If blkswn saw the musician tackling the issues of the day, Noir sees him pull directly from his personal everyday truth. “I’m not trying to be like anyone else’s art,” Smino says. “I’m just trying to be the art that’s coming out of me. It’s just honest.”

SIR

SiR is the recording alias of Sir Darryl Farris, an R&B singer and songwriter whose sound is predominantlymellow but soulfully impassioned, like Frank Ocean or Anderson Paak. Music runs in his family. He’s thebrother of Daniel and Davion Darris (who count Jaheim’s “Never” among their most popular work assongwriters), the nephew of Andrew Gouché (a prominent gospel bassist who played with Prince), andthe cousin of Tiffany Gouché (fellow soul progressive and one of Farris’ occasional collaborators).Although Farris built up a resistance to music due to parental pressure – his mother is Jackie Gouché, agospel artist and session vocalist active since the early ‘80s – it wore off. The Inglewood, California native earned a degree in recording arts and developed his songwriting, arranging, and production skills. He went on to work with Anita Baker and from 2011 through 2015, co-wrote material for the likes of Ginuwine, Tyrese, and Jill Scott.

EarthGang

The very first day Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot of EarthGang met, their school caught on fire. On a field trip, they’d discovered they had similar tastes in music and that neither was scared to say exactly what he was thinking. As their bus turned toward campus, they saw smoke billowing and felt the hand of serendipity at work. Everything around them was burning down, leaving something new, a phoenix, in its wake—their partnership. “We just had our own vibe,” says Doctur Dot. “We weren’t doing music just to get rich and drink a bunch of lean. Nah. We just wanna make music best we can.” A handful of years later, that’s precisely what they’ve become known for. Marrying lean, sharp-eyed lyricism with Southern-fried soul to produce keep-em-guessing projects like their most recent, 2015’s Strays With Rabies or the much-lauded 2013 Shallow Graves for Toys, they embody the best of the new generation of music—and plenty of critics and fans alike have taken note. Noisey lavished praise on the duo, calling their work a, “renewal for Atlanta, a departure from the city’s familiar club sounds … Every song arrived fully formed, hitting hard and landing jokes while also delving deep into political issues, especially topics of race.” Working with fellow bout-to-blow artists like J.I.D and established producers like J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, they’ve continued to hit curve balls musically, surprising not only their fan base, but also themselves.” “I’m always trying to push the limits of things,” says Johnny Venus. “We tend to work with producers that wanna break some rules. They pull out their secret stuff – the reason they do that is they know we aren’t constricted to one type of sound,one type of rhythm or attitude. We contain multitudes,” continues Dot. It wasn’t always that way. As they were coming up in Atlanta, the guys found it difficult not only to find producers that wanted to work with them, but also mentors, surprising ina city with such a rich rap history. “In the beginning, we didn’t have nobody that wantedto work with us, so we worked by ourselves and made the most of it,” says Dot. “We didn’t have anybody else who thought we should be doing it.” That all changed with 2011’s Mad Men project. With their nimble wordplay and ability to color outside the line, comparisons to another local group—Outkast—cropped up, and EarthGang quickly became a name to know. They were branded a clever indie hip-hop act, and for a big part of their career, they were, as Dot puts it, “surfing the indie oceanand doing real good.” But as the years have passed, that label has become constricting. Now, they find themselves stretching beyond the “indie hip-hop” brand, ready to reach awider audience with sharp-slick lyrics that cut through the hazy blur of ratchet rap and an avid interest in never settling or resting on their laurels. “A lot of people in the industryget caught up in: ‘This is what I do.’ With us, it’s like, ‘This is what I could do? Shit, I’mgonna try doing that.’ As long as it keeps being fun, we gonna keep doing it,” Venus says. Fittingly, there’s no one genre that can hold EarthGang. “I describe the sound how youdescribe freedom. There are twelve notes on the keyboard and I love every single one of them with all my heat. That's my sound,” Venus says. “We’re making the transition and recognizing our response as artists. I don’t mean wegotta save every kid in every hood, but when you represent something to somebody, the best you think you can do is accept responsibility for what you have to do. Freedom,” Dot echoes. “We gonna take ‘em to another world.”

Masego

He got his start in 2015 uploading Saxophone remixes of his favorite songs on SoundCloud. “I used to do this series called Arbitrary Sax, where I’d rip a beat from SoundCloud, play sax on it, then dedicate it to a woman on Instagram at random” Through this he attracted talented producers and artists. As he grew an organic fan base this led to a Twitter invitation to perform in the middle of Brooklyn... a day that can be considered his defining moment. “I set up a table and all my equipment in the middle of the street and started playing sax and making a beat. I attracted this huge crowd. It was this live block party until some lady came up to me rudely asking to shut it down. Before a compromise could occur, she ran to her apartment building and began raining down what I hope was water filled balloons. Shortly after, I met that man Justin Scarbrough who would make my life much more organized.” Masego used that Brooklyn moment as energy to push harder. He asked his favorite beat makers and artist managers for advice. “Ta- ku gave phenomenal advice which really encouraged me” Masego spent months traveling the east coast by car, soaking up new environments. Youtube can be credited for daily inspiration leading him to stumble across some artists that inspire him to this day. Ebrahim, Ed Sheeran, Kimbra, and Bernhoft to name a few. It was the art of looping which led Masego to buy his own looping equipment. This eventually resulted in him chiseling his musical identity. Masego’s music was originally coined “TrapHouseJazz” and, if you had to give the music a genre, has recently grown into emotion. He brings the spirit of Cab Calloway to life when he chants “HidyHo”. “If they see my show, it’ll all make sense”. He boasts an incredible live show that evolves city by city, country by country. Fans and critics have compared It to Morris Day and the Time meets MJ’s Dangerous tour. Lady Lady is his phrase, album, and world. Lady Lady means my love and it describes his dream world of radiant, powerful women. His most recent work takes you through his relationships, conversations, and interactions with the women in his life.

Leikeli47

Even if you've followed the meteoric rise of musican and producer Leikeli47 thus far, you're not prepared for where she's going to take you next. Her second album Acrylic is brash, bold, and as gleefully tough as the material the album takes its name from. "We have this saying that when you smell acrylic, you know just where you are," she explains while discussing what the album title means to her. "Acrylic is a hard substance and I feel this is one of my harder records to date. It speaks to how hard times don’t break you, they make you.” The road to Acrylic has been eventful for Leikeli47, who's only seen her profile further elevate over the past year. She's notched several appearances on the soundtrack for HBO's Insecure, most recently with Acrylic's snappy, infectious single "Girl Blunt"; the release of her debut album, last year's Wash & Set, spread the word about her considerable talents and led to the type of opportunities—performing for Natalie Portman, appearing with Lion Babe at Coachella, and having her innagural ArfroPunk performance—that up-and-coming artists only dream of. There's been so many new opportunities," she reminisces. "It's been a really cool time, and I'm still taking it in. I've been in the studio discovering new sounds. Creatively, it's been a fun ride." The second album in a planned trilogy kicked off by Wash & Set, Acrylic was recorded over the last year in Los Angeles — a casual creative process meant to let ideas flourish naturally. "As an artist, you want to go in and add new conversations and ideas,” Leikeli47 explains. “Most of these ideas started in my apartment, or just from walking down the street. Great things happen when you live in the moment." Indeed, Acrylic is brimming with a variety of melodic moods, from the brittle bounce of the title track to the brassy swing of "Hoyt and Schermerhorn." The vibe is big in every sense, a deliberate choice to expand Leikeli47's world of sound and showcase her true ambition. "I remember starting off as a producer, really jumping in and taking a chance with my sound—it was minimal, but it still had the boom to it," she states while discussing the progression that Acrylic represents. "There's been so much growth, sonically and lyrically, since. The sounds are bigger, the lyrics are more brash. It’s been a really ill creative learning process.” Co-producers ranging from Clyde & Harry (Ludacris, Ghostface Killah) to Dave Hamelin (The Belle Game, Sam Roberts Band) pitched in during the creative process, as well as Michael Barney (One of Leikeli’s right hands and production partner) and Hardcover CEO and frequent collaborator Harold Lilly (Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Zayn Malik), who also happens to be Leikeli47's cousin. "He's one of the main people I look to when it comes to being an artist," she gushes. " He’s a true drill sergeant, but I’m used to it. He requires nothing less than great and above. His motto is “Chop wood, carry water,” like the Joshua Medcalf book. The people around you should want the best for you and he definitely does. He and Michael made sure I stayed on point during the recording process. " There's nothing but laser-guided focus on Acrylic, a true representation of the breadth of Leikeli47's talent. "Full Set (A New Style)" pulses with flashy ballroom samples and Leikeli47's up-front cadence, while "Roll Call" is a boisterous and flat-out fun tribute to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). "It highlights the black college experience," she explains. " One love to all of the higher learning institutions but there’s just a special line of love I have for my Historically Black Institutions. Getting your education is bomb no matter where you decide to go but it was very fun to get in and create art around a culture that’s not often celebrated. I get to show people how we get down and that’s a beautiful thing.” And that's the overriding message behind Acrylic: come together and have some fun, regardless of who you are. I'm all about letting people in — I love putting my message in music," Leikeli47 explains when talking about her artistic mission statement. "It's a great way to engage people and get them talking to each other. A lot of the time we don't know how our worlds relate because we barely talk to each other. We take stuff too seriously—it's time to have fun and be part of a melting pot of individuals." Leikeli47 wants to bring the world together as one, and through Acrylic, her message as infectious as ever.

Mahalia

At 12 years old – the age most of us are aimlessly riding bikes or trying to avoid homework – Mahalia was picking up a guitar and penning love songs. With her entrancing, soulful tones, wise yet relatable wordplay and intuitive sense of melody, it quickly became clear that she had a natural sense of musicality, and that she’d be doing this for the rest of her life. Now 19 and based in Leicester, Mahalia is ready to fully unleash what she’s been brewing into the world. In the time since she first picked up that guitar, she’s dropped a scattering of releases – from 2012’s indie-flecked acoustic dream Head Space to 2015’s gorgeously understated 4-track EP Never Change – which was premiered on i-D – and last year’s genreflipping mixtape Diary of Me, picking up praise from the likes of The Independent, MTV and IDOL. In 2015, her unique voice caught the attention of Rudimental, who asked her to feature on their easy-going summer anthem “We the Generation”, pushing her name to a wider audience in the process. But for Mahalia, it feels as if she’s just getting started. Her first official single, titled “Sober”, is a rich slice of R&B that recalls the likes of Erykah Badu, Sade and Lauryn Hill, but sprinkled with originality and pushed into the present day. “I’m sorry that there ain’t no time left, you and I are over, me and you are done,” she sings, her warm tones melding into the illustrious, groove-laden beat, her words hitting straight to the heart. The track is quintessentially Mahalia – encompassing the classic sounds of the past while refusing to be hemmed in by one particular genre; her open-hearted lyricism holding it all together like magic dust. This unique sonic make up will undeniably see Mahalia produce a debut album that is her defining artistic statement. “I don’t care what anyone else thinks – I’m writing an album. That’s the next thing,” she says, “And I’d obviously love to tour the world. I just want to be making music and to happy.”

Ravyn Lenae

Quite fittingly, Ravyn Lenae likens her music to a fairytale. Sprinkling signature “futuristic soul” like pixie dust and pops of vibrant color across this aural world, the 18-year-old Chicago singer and songwriter writes her own chapter for Pop equally informed by a classical sensibility and youthful daring and already championed by everyone from Pitchforkto Chicago Tribune. “I think of it as a fantasy world,” she affirms. “There are familiar elements of R&B and soul, but there’s also a more refined approach and new wave of thinking. Overall, it’s this fantasyland where my mind lives and my art comes from.” Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, art immediately spoke to her as a child. Between learning piano and guitar, she went from obsessively listening to India.Arie with her mom and OutKast’s The Love Belowto eventually discovering the likes of Antonio Vivaldi and Reynaldo Hahn. In her most formative years, attending Chicago’s High School For The Arts proved nothing short of revelatory. “That’s where I found a lot of my inspiration,” she elaborates. “I couldn’t imagine myself in any other high school. I don’t feel like I’d be the artist I am today or that I would have tapped into the artistry inside of me if it wasn’t for that environment. I was encouraged to be myself, but I also learned discipline. I was up at 5:30am every day, in class until 2pm, and then conservatory until 5pm. I loved being classically trained, but I also wanted to find my own voce, so I started songwriting.” She met producer Monte Booker, and the two began collaborating in 2014. Her first upload, “Greetings,” stirred up a palpable buzz online as she inked a deal with Three Twenty Three Music Group and Atlantic Records. The Moon ShoesEP nationally ignited this buzz followed by the Midnight Moonlight EP. Rolling Stoneplaced her among “10 Artists You Need To Know,” while Vibe, Nylon, Essence, Fake Shore Drive, Saint Heron,Earmilk, and more trumpeted her throughout 2017. In tandem, she morphed into a powerhouse performer on tour with the likes of SZA and fellow Windy City luminary NONAME. Simultaneously, she carefully assembled her EP, Crush[Three Twenty Three Music Group/Atlantic Records]. After developing a friendship on Twitter, Steve Lacy of The Internet produced all five tracks. “He posted my stuff, DM’ed me, and insisted on working together,” she recalls. “I had already been a big fan of his and felt stylistically connected before even knowing him. When we finally met, we instantly clicked. We’re the same age and share the same taste. That trust and friendship needs to be there before you can create.” Over a lush instrumental backdrop, she opened up like never before. “The main growth for me was the writing,” she admits. “Steve’s production is so different that it made me change my approach. I’m way more blunt now. I used to be very shy with my emotions. I would cover them up with pretty metaphors. Now, I’m not so shielding of my experiences, because I feel like I owe my listeners the honest truth of how I’m feeling. The attitude has completely progressed. It’s sassier.” A swell of organs, strutting guitars, and jazzy coos ushers the first single “Sticky” into an unshakable falsetto refrain evocative of that evolution. “It’s about being stuck to someone and knowing you shouldn’t be,” Ravyn goes on. “The person is not really nice to you; he’s actually a little mean. Even though you know that, you take him back all the time. He’s sticky.” Elsewhere, glitchy beats swing as her smooth voice soars on “Four Leaf Clover.” During the duet, Lacy serves up a vocal call-and-response about the doldrums of getting “friendzoned.”“Computer Luv”—which concerns “finding love online”—entangles their voices once again in hypnotic harmony. “The entire tape sounds like a girl writing in her diary about how she has a crush on this guy,” she explains. “It’s the most I’ve ever dedicated a body of work to a boy. That’s where I went, because that’s how I’ve been feeling—head over heels.” It’s a classic sentiment shared by a bold new voice. It’s also ultimately indicative of what’s to come from Ravyn. “When people listen to me, I’d love for them to feel the essence of earlier records, but with a fresh twist,” she leaves off. “Pharrell and OutKast brought me to another level. It was very musical in an old school way, yet it still pushed forward. I hope listeners walk away feeling the same way I did listening to those classics.”

Fantastic Negrito

When you listen to Fantastic Negrito, you’re invited to hear the story of life after destruction. Each song is a real story about a musician from Oakland who experienced the highs of a million dollar record deal, the lows of a near fatal car accident that left him in a coma, and is now in the midst of a rebirth that took him from the streets of Oakland to the Grammy stage. On the way he won the NPR Tiny Desk Contest and toured the world with artists like Chris Cornell, Temple of the Dog and Sturgill Simpson. June 15 marks the release of Fantastic Negrito's heavily anticipated new release Please Don't Be Dead, the follow up to his 2017 Grammy winning debut album The Last Days of Oakland. "The last album was more observational," says Negrito. "On this one I'm bringing the fight."

Cautious Clay

“Ever since I started playing music, it was always about the feel,” says Josh Karpeh, AKA Cautious Clay. “There are a lot of things in art that you can learn by practicing or studying, but feel’s not one of them. It’s something you’ve just got to have.” It’s that feel, that deep emotional intuition that fuels Cautious Clay’s sound. Blending R&B, hip-hop, and experimental indie, his productions are dark and engrossing, built upon a unique combination of organic instruments, digital programming, and soulful vocals. He writes with unflinching honesty, engaging in deeply personal self-reflection with boldly vulnerable and vividly poetic lyrics. At times recalling contemporaries like James Blake or Sampha, Cautious is a profoundly modern songwriter and a forward- thinking producer, but he’s also steeped in the past, quick to cite Burt Bacharach as an idol and credit Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones as ever-present influences in his artful arrangements. “I used to think about songwriting and production as completely separate,” he explains, “but when I learned how to merge those two things, that’s when I was able to start creating music that really connected with people.” Originally from Cleveland, OH, Cautious began his artistic journey at the age of seven when he picked up classical flute. His studies led him deep into the worlds of blues and jazz, and by the time he hit college in Washington, D.C., he’d added a number of other instruments to his repertoire in addition to songwriting and production. Now based in Brooklyn, Cautious is currently preparing to release his debut EP, Blood Type, in February.

Lucky Daye

Born and raised in New Orleans, he spent his formative years in a religious cult—of which his mother was a member. Barred from any and all “secular music,” he taught himself melodies by singing Bible verses and Dr. Seuss rhymes. Once his mom fled the cult, life quieted until Hurricane Katrina hit and literally washed life as he knew it away. The family fled to Tyler, TX, but Lucky aimed to launch a career in music. He made his way to Atlanta, where he spent some time recording before seeking a brighter future in music and road tripping to LA. Once there, he met D’Mile and crafted Painted, which takes you through a journey of Lucky’s life experiences. Released under Keep Cool/RCA records, his story unfolds by way of smoky full-spectrum R&B on the record. With the release of Painted, Lucky enters the music world with a powerful debut, leaving his footprint and fortifying and groundwork to become the next rising star in R&B.

Moses Boyd & DJ Lag

Louder Than Quiet

“Louder Than Quiet” is a term based on respect. This band/collective has been earning that respect for quite some time. Destroying stages all across the east coast including Afropunk Brooklyn in 2017 as well as Afropunk Brooklyn 2018. The fiery spirit just doesn’t seem to quit and made us eager to hear their debut full length album which dropped on the same day they played the festival last year. But low and behold they are back with a vengeance and there is still so much more to prove.

Sho Madjozi

Maya Wegerif (26), better known as Sho Madjozi, is the new South African Queen of rap. Sho was born in the northern province of Limpopo to a South African mother and Swedish father. A village girl raised in a compound full of matriarchs, her stage name was inspired by Vivian Majozi, a fictional character on a long-running local soap. Musically, Sho experimented with different sounds, but found a good match in Gqom, the post-South African house style that has emerged as the country’s leading musical export.

DUCKWRTH

South Central recording artist and designer, DUCKWRTH, is known for releasing honest, in your face, genre-defying music and an ​even more electrifying live performance and he is ready to bring that energy to a city near you. Duckwrth, born Jared Lee, started developing a cult fan base by appearing on popular TeamBackPackYoutube videos and releasing local mixtapes like "Ducktape" and "Taxfree V1". After a stint living in New York during the increased tension of police brutality and gentrification, he saw firsthand the determination, sacrifice and commitment it would take to be as great as he wanted to be without compromising his integrity. This journey led to the release of the politically charged Kickdrums collaboration project, titled "NOWHERE". DUCKWRTH's overall experience inspired him to take a fearless approach to writing, producing and performing his own music. In 2016, DUCKWRTH took the energy he developed in New York back to Los Angeles where he created and released his critically acclaimed debut LP, I’M UUGLY. I’M UUGLY is equal parts mainstream and underground. With smooth crossover tracks like I'M DEAD and RAREPANTHER to mosh pit songs like BLAKK RAGER and RUUUN, this was a project that merged the most unique parts of DUCKWRTH’s personality and talents to create a sound and visual palette that indicated he had not only grown as an artist but well on his way to being a music icon and visionary for his generation. DUCKWRTH's recently released project, an XTRA UUGLY Mixtape,vowed to take that vision a step further by blending genres from rock to hip hop to funk and soul and incorporating live elements from guitars to violins. What started as just an accumulation of demos he started while working on his previous release quickly proved to be more than just a few leftover tracks sitting on his hard drive. It is a legitimate body of work that caught the attention of tastemakers around the world.

Upchuck

This multicultural band out of Atlanta has something to say. The collaboration of guitarists- Spuzz Dangus with a background of blues and Hoffdog with OG doom rock influence, bassist- Armando Arrietta influenced by punk, drummer - Chris Salado playing rhumba and touring with his father, and vocalist Kaila Thompson create a new sound of garage punk! The intensity of both lyricism and instrumentation scream for a change in the growing disparities of today. The diverse group reels in a music loving crowd awaiting to release, and indulge in the purge of sounds that come together to be Upchuck!