Black History Month: Top British Musicians You Need To Hear – Part Two
The UK music industry is home to a huge number of incredible Black artists who are making history before our eyes. During Black History Month, we wanted to appreciate some of our favourite UK musicians, ranging from established artists to promising up-and-coming acts.
Dave, or Santan Dave, is a British rapper, songwriter and record producer. He has made waves on the UK music scene in recent years thanks to his socially conscious lyrics and unique style. Dave has received awards and accolades for his music, notably an Ivor Novello songwriting award in 2018 for his song ‘Question Time’ which criticised the UK government’s practices and political stances. ‘Question Time’ won the best contemporary song, and the London based rapper won the Mercury Prize for his album ‘Psychodrama’ in 2019, and prior to that had previously released two EPs: Game Over in 2017 and Six Paths in 2016.
Dave has recently received his second Ivor Novello for best contemporary song (co-written with Fraser T. Smith) titled ‘Black’. His unbelievable live performance of Black, live at the BRIT awards in early 2020 reportedly took two months of rehearsal and subsequently was a huge talking point after. If you haven’t seen it, this is definitely one to check out.
Dave Social Media Links
Akala is not only a renowned British Hip-hop artist, rapper and poet, he is also a prolific journalist, author, historian and activist. He is from London and has been an active musician since 2003, amassing a following in his first few years, and winning a MOBO award in 2006 for ‘Best Hip Hop Act’ following his first album It’s Not a Rumour which was released in the same year. Akala has continued to steadily release music on his own label including several mixtapes, EPs, and a total of 5 albums.
Politically involved, Akala has been outspoken on his support for the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and has been instrumental in countering right-wing voices on mainstream media platforms in recent years. He is the founder of the Hip-hop Shakespeare Company – a music theatre production company specialising in the delivery of education programmes, live events and music theatre productions across the UK and around the world.
Akala has recently won a BAFTA Children’s Award for his show Poetry: Between the Lines – The Romantics. His 2019 book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire is a compelling historical commentary that discusses truth, the narrative we were told, and how we are impacted by this today. He regularly speaks at universities as a historian, and as his accomplishments will attest, Akala is not only a respected artist, but a multi-talented master.
Akala Social Media Links
Hip-hop Shakespeare Links
Grace Carter is a British R&B singer and songwriter from Brighton, England. She released her debut single, ‘Silence’, in May 2017. The song helped launch her career and has amassed 10 million Spotify streams to date. In 2018 Grace released an EP, covering life, heartache, and family struggles.
She has since released 4 more singles, and was named YouTube Music’s ‘One to Watch’ for 2019 and was placed 3rd in BBC Radio 1’s ‘Sound of 2019’ poll. There’s no doubt after appreciating Grace’s extensive touring credits from the last few years that Carter will be back out there to continue her ascent as soon as live music can resume again.
Grace Carter Social Media Links
Arlo Parks is a singer-songwriter from London. In her words, she “spent most of school feeling like that black kid who couldn’t dance, listening to too much emo music, and crushing on some girl in her Spanish class”. Her songs are confessional and tender, mainly inspired by Portishead and Earl Sweatshirt. Her distinctive voice and production style help her stand out at as a current favourite artist, and she’s been named as a breakthrough act of 2020 with the BBC’s Sound of 2020.
Arlo Parks has only been active since 2018, but has a strong following already, with the success of her debut single ‘Cola’ that year. She then signed to Transgressive Records and released the debut EP ‘Super Sad Generation’ in 2019, which led to a string of festivals including Glastonbury and The Great Escape. In late 2019 she released four singles ahead of her second EP, Sophie, and has kept us going through lockdown with her two most recent singles, ‘Eugene’ and ‘Black Dog’. In August this year, she was recognised with an AIM Independent Music Award for ‘One to Watch in 2020.’
Arlo Parks has announced the debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams will be released in January 2021, and we are counting down the days.
Arlo Parks Social Media Links