Tag Archives: Black Milk

The Best New Hip-Hop on Bandcamp

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This month’s crucial hip-hop picks include indie rap veterans who are embracing their years in the game, video game fiends paying tribute to the late, great Frank White, and a rapper who at one time had the whole Internet convinced he was actually an alias of Nas. In a break from the normal U.S.-based selection, we also take a detour to Auckland, New Zealand where a whole bunch of rap cats are mustering up their own brand of creative hip-hop.
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The Merch Table: January 2017

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Illustration by Paul Grelet.

Every month, The Merch Table brings you the best and most bonkers merchandise you can find on Bandcamp. We commend bands and labels that get a little creative and think outside the tote bag. Whether it’s a fashion accessory, a piece of art, or something entirely unique, The Merch Table showcases inventive, original—and, occasionally, downright strange—stuff that you might want to get your hands on. But, sorry: the Atari 2600 is sold out.

1. Optigram’s “After Us” Magazine via Hyperdub

After Us Magazine

Kode9’s London-based label Hyperdub has been quietly releasing some of the most intelligent electronic music of the last few years. Apparently, there’s also a lot of philosophizing going on at the label, since they’ve recently launched a magazine by their design partner Optigram whose mission statement reads: “Through essays, pictorials and fiction, After Us aims to look beyond the horizon, exploring developments in science and technology, new forms and expressions in art, and alternative political thinking.” Issue 3 is expected in the spring of 2017.

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Mic Write on Police Brutality, Gentrification, and Misconceptions of Detroit

Mic Write

In December 2014, following the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other unarmed black men at the hands of police, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson called for a new wave of protest music. “I think [the lack of protest music] is just due to fear of being blackballed and not making a living,” The Roots’ bandleader said at the time. Over the last two years, a host of indie and mainstream artists heeded the call; Detroit rapper Mic Write stepped up to the plate long ago. As a soloist and member of the rap group Cold Men Young, he’s won poetry slam awards and literary fellowships for his rhymes, which capture the humanity of Detroit, one of the country’s most misunderstood—and rapidly changing—cities.

His latest album, O.N.U.S. Chain, is his best work yet, a stirring EP that tackles police brutality, racial injustice, and the transformation of his hometown. Sad, desperate, joyful and proud, the record and its accompanying short film cycle through a wide range of emotions, from elation to frustration to anger. We talked with him about public misconceptions about Detroit, how his students taught him a lesson about police brutality, and how a teacher falsely accused him of committing a writer’s worst offense.

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Big Ups: Black Milk Picks His Favorite Bandcamp Artists

Black Milk
Black Milk. Photo by Frankie Turiano for Bandcamp.

Rapper/producer Black Milk isn’t an artist who minds sharing the spotlight. His last three albums—No Poison No Paradise, If There’s A Hell Below and The Rebellion Sessions—were collaborative efforts on which the producer happily ceded the stage to his musical partners. On the instrumental Rebellion Sessions in particular, Milk was barely even there, instead playing the background while focusing on conducting his live band, Nat Turner. Naturally, when we asked the musician to pick some of his favorite artists on Bandcamp, he was happy to oblige.

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Aaron Abernathy’s Heartfelt Soul is a Family Affair

Aaron Abernathy
Aaron Abernathy. Photo by Jati Lindsay.

Over the past decade, Washington D.C. musician Aaron Abernathy has shored up a rock-solid reputation. “He’s unapologetically funky and unapologetically black,” says Foreign Exchange frontman Phonte Coleman, who appears on Abernathy’s new album, Monologue. “He encapsulates what I consider to be a soul singer—something more rooted in feeling than in technique. He’s a great singer, but the feeling elevates things. His harmonies epitomize soul to me.” MC/producer Black Milk, for whom Abernathy is musical director, touts the singer’s ability as a leader and creative visionary. “I’m always in awe of the way that Ab can arrange a live show,” Milk tells us. “I’ve never seen anybody else with this level of talent. He’s a big reason why my show is on [the] level that it is.”

Then there’s keyboardist Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson, a fellow Midwest native and D.C. area resident (Abernathy is from Cleveland and stayed in the nation’s capital after graduating from Howard University.) To Ferguson, who is also featured on Monologue, Abernathy’s Midwestern roots make up a great deal of his music. “He is extremely driven. Midwestern brothers are very hungry,” Ferguson says. “A lot of musicians from that region get looked over. We’re very competitive, and we have that blue collar spirit.”

We spoke with Abernathy about his long-awaited album, the Abernathy family legacy, and how a Howard University business major ended up working with the likes of the Foreign Exchange and Black Milk.

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