Black Artist Database has launched a new platform, called Black Creative Database.
With Black Artist Database having initially launched as Black Bandcamp in June 2020, as a means of highlighting and sharing the work of Black artists on Bandcamp and more widely, work on Black Creative Database began later that year.
Black Creative Database, initially starting life as a directory of portfolios belonging to Black creatives across the world – working across areas such as design, digital media and visual art – is now available as a searchable online database.
“The purpose of Black Creative Database is to surface the richness of creative talent from the global Black diaspora in pursuit of wage equity, transparency and stable employment for our extended creative communities,” reads a press release shared alongside the platform’s full launch.
Black creatives are encouraged to submit details about themselves and their line of work by creating an online profile and sharing their portfolio and social media channels. You can find the submission form to set up your own profile here.
Toronto-based alternative Afro fusion artist NOVA shares his new project S.T.A.Y II, the second installment of his music series of the same name. The 10-track project is a global ensemble of artists and producers, including Toye Aru, Fasina Bankyondeatz, Katasha J, Esquire, Goldkeys, Otee Beatz, Damie, Doozybeatz. The result is a mixed bag of sounds that take inspiration from the Alte music scene back in Lagos, Nigeria where Nova emerged, to the contemporary sounds of the city he now calls home, Toronto.
From the ethereal sensual track “Know What time it is” to the atmospheric vibes of “Apollo XI,” NOVA delivers a range of styles blending Afropop elements on the former with futuristic R&B melodic runs on the latter. On “SuperNova” he makes use of a moody trap backdrop for his sultry harmonies while the feel-good energy of the Fasina assisted “Can’t Complain” changes the brightness of the project. The fun doesn’t stop there as we are treated to the sublime guitar-driven “Echoes Of Summer” where NOVA channels his inner Frank Ocean. NOVA holds it down for the most part with his unique melodic style and code-switching technique where he blends English with some Nigerian pidgin slangs and the features are far and in-between. Other notable cuts include the Katasha J assisted afropop jam “Precious Diamond” and the soul and trap vibes of “Chardonnay” featuringeSquire.
Dombresky and Noizu’s Revival EP honors the classic rave sound of the ’90s. The second track of the EP “Revival” features Croatian-born DJ Reblok who challenge the modern day standards of house music with their balance of hard electro and underground tech-house.
The French and UK production pair has taken its friendship to the top of the dance music scene thanks to a series of back-to-back DJ stints dating back to when they had moved to the same city in 2018. Together, the two will see their passions for house music come to fruition with their very own headlining back-to-back performance at The Hollywood Palladium scheduled to take place on November 13 in Los Angeles. Purchase tickets here and stream Revival below.
Experimental Irish duo Darkroom Data‘s new single “Fall With You” finds them blending retro pop aesthetics and futuristic R&B. The duo delivers a relatable and heartfelt tale of emotional conflicts and the thin line between wants and needs in the sphere of love. The record produced by Márcio Paz is built on layered ominous strings, ethereal synths, and a rich slap bassline that all add up to a moody canvas for lead singer Gillian NoVa‘s unique vocal performance. I love how the track slowly builds by the minute alongside NoVa’s sensual and airy vocal runs.
Darkroom Data are an indie electro-pop duo, comprising Irish vocalist Gillian NoVa and Brazilian composer Márcio Paz. The duo’s style is inspired by the veteran 80’s producer Bob Lamb who worked with names like UB40, Duran Duran.
Shadient has unveiled his 13-track debut album Have You No Burden on Gud Vibrations. The English producer is displaying his emotionally boundless palette of darkness and light with the help of featured vocalists such as fknsyd, Catnapp, and sh4dows for a his full-length LP that follows his Infinite Structure EP, released in 2020.
Have You No Burden serves as a catalyst for listeners to be transparent with their self-conscious emotions in hopes to better connect within themselves, with the album’s title gesturing to the idea that individuals shouldn’t carry the burden caused by fear. Altogether, the LP crosses over a number of genres including industrial, glitch, experimental, synth-pop, electro-pop, mid-tempo, and ambient as Shadient brings his personal individualism to full-form through an introspective, melancholic, and atmospheric debut body-of-work.
Riding a high after his solo EDC debut and continuously striving to keep things interesting, Said The Sky has just remixed country up-and-comer Kane Brown‘s latest single featuring blackbear, “Memory.” Showcasing his immense range, the latest remix follows the act’s recent collaboration with pop-punk visionaries The Maine (“Go On Then, Love“), not to mention a brand new remix from Odea.
Despite the obvious juxtaposition of style, Said The Sky’s version still encapsulates all of the emotionally evocative resonance that usually comes through to his listeners. Adding a touch of ambiance and synth work, Said The Sky has unsurprisingly turned the pop-country tune into a dance music hit. Stream Said The Sky’s remix of “Memory” below.
“Watch That Tongue” marks Cloverdale’s seventh single of the calendar year, succeeding the DJ’s two-track EP, The Energy, released in October. Dispatched via Insomniac‘s IN / ROTATION, “Watch That Tongue” evokes relentless big kick energy, allotting listeners little to no time to catch their breath.
That said, Cloverdale is a self-proclaimed “high-octane tech-house” DJ, but at this point in his career, that goes without saying. What’s more, the Nova Scotian woke up a few days ago to what he thought was some sort of prank. Not only did Spotify add “Watch That Tongue” to both their “Bangers”and “Dance Rising” playlists, but the leading DSP also made an image of Cloverdale the new official cover of “Bangers.” See Cloverdale’s reaction to becoming the new playlist cover and stream “Watch That Tongue” below.
Most Christmas songs are upbeat and cheerful, but Gina Naomi Baez takes a much different approach. With a similar message to Wham!’s “Last Christmas” she releases her single “Tinsel and Tears”. With buttery, heartfelt vocals soaring atop jingling soundscapes, the song arrives just in time for the holidays. The striking strings add to the track’s deep emotion. No one wants to spend Christmas alone and Baez captures that pain so beautifully. The single was co-written with Meghan Kabir (Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez).
Inspired by artists such as Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles her music possesses a strong vulnerability. Baez’s creative talents go beyond just singing and songwriting. An actress, YouTuber and influencer, she has snagged roles in Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have Itand Orange is the New Black. Her core passion though has always been for music and that really shows in this enchanting piece. The talent reveals, “The feeling might be a dark one, especially during the holidays but it’s a feeling that everyone goes through or will go through in their life whether it be a loss, a break up, a divorce, a parting of ways or a long distance relationship.”
Roland is continuing its series of tiny synths with some unlikely additions – the 1985 JX-8P and 1991 JD-800. But maybe the big news is, under the hood, you finally get serious polyphony.
That’ll be the JD-80 (JD-800) and JX-08 (JX-8P), US$399.99 each, with USB bus power or batteries just like the other Boutique range. Coming to the USA in January. (I have to check worldwide availability.)
Okay, let’s be honest – the JD-800 might rank dead last as a candidate for Boutique treatment, on the face of it. Kids, ask your parents, but basically, the whole point of the JD-800 in the 1990s was putting as many controls and faders and knobs and editing on a really big synth as possible. The basic form factor of the Boutique Series is essentially the TB-303 and TD-606 – so the very opposite of that. You can shrink down an 808, since the original had a lot of space. But the JD-800?
The explanation of why Roland suddenly has runaway JD-800 fever, at least, is simpler – a lot of you evidently now love the D-50 all over again, which you’ve translated into buying a bunch of the D-50 Boutique. (Maybe not you reading this but… someone.) The JD-800 is basically the more 90s, more rave-y, more expansive D-50 with a ton of editing. You just have to then buy into the idea of it being newly minimal.
For more background, I wrote about some of the best music made on this instrument, which included the chance to talk to Mouse on Mars, A Guy Called Gerald, Ingmar Koch (Air Liquide), and King Britt about it – and they all raved:
The JX-8P is more one for history buffs, but it’s nice to see it get a (small) homage. Unlike the JD-800, the JX-8P actually gets more control in this reimagining. Plus the timing is right for anything capable of some 80s sounds. (See also: Depeche Mode, Biosphere, Tangerine Dream, and yes, 808 State.)
Yes, there’s polyphony. The thing that makes this not a completely daft idea is, Roland mercifully has upped the polyphony under the hood. Now, readers mercilessly complained that the JU-06A JUNO recreation had only four voices, but I still thoroughly enjoy mine so stand by my review. But having four voices on a JUNO instead of six on a tiny synth is one thing. Having four voices on a JD-800 or even a JX-8P would actually defeat the purpose.
So here’s the deal: the JD-08 has a maximum polyphony of 128 voices; JX-08 maxes out at 20. That will vary from patch to patch, especially on the layered-up architecture of the JD-08. But this turns out to be a pretty powerful polysynth in a tiny space.
Yes, those faders are tiny. PALETTE faders on the JD-08 are 30mm, but all the others are 20mm. On the upside, they have 8-bit fader resolution – 0 to 256. How you’ll actually get that on a 20mm fader is another matter.
I’m going to try. I’m even changing my artist name to Thumbelina.
The JD-08 works with the Roland Cloud software version. The new JD-08 hardware acts as a pre-mapped controller for the new JD-880 plug-in that’s part of Roland Cloud; the JU-06A you can use the same way as a controller for the JUNO 60. That’s not a bad feature if you’re a Roland Cloud subscriber – I’ve definitely used it to jam a bit with the JUNO plug-in and a track came out of doing just that.
It’s way, way too small to really program JD-800 patches from scratch, but it would lend itself to two-handed JD-800 programming – probably your non-dominant hand for some simple envelope adjustments and PALETTE controls, and your dominant hand on the computer mouse for everything else. It’s not really the amount of hands-on control on the JD-800, but remember even that still required a lot of switching on the four tone controls. I think someone should make something like an iPad controller or the 60KNOBS creation from Bastl if they’re really JD-obsessed.
Roland has confusingly made two slightly incompatible versions of the same plug-in, but I’ll get to that separately.
All the JD-800 effects are there. If your memory of Roland in the 90s is still a bunch of cheesy presets – and you’re truly not wrong – let me introduce you to the JD-800’s ace in the hole. Its group A effects engine is really genius:
The JD-08 in fact recreates the full architecture of the original, including the ability to swap between different distortion presets – mellow, overdrive, a very-bright “cry,” light, fat, and fuzz.
I mean, these are still definitely fairly ridiculous. Tiny 80s and 90s polys, yes – they’re weird. But maybe they’re weird in a good way. Because either of these winds up being a strong polysynth that runs on batteries and USB and tucks away into a spare pocket of your bag. They also have full-size MIDI ports (though no jack plug, so you’d need an adapter), and they work as USB MIDI and audio interfaces in a pinch.
There are also some refreshes here – in addition to updated horsepower to support the additional polyphony, these units, at last, have USB-C.
Plus, I have to admit, having spent some time with the same engine in software – the JD-08 is really versatile in a way the D-50 isn’t, even though the two get lumped together. There are 64 of the original presets (oh, yes, Millenium is back), but no need – you can easily program your own and shape them with the spectrum and distortion into something that doesn’t sound 90s at all, if you so choose.
And for all the hate the Boutique series get – there is a logic to the form factor. Battery power plus tiny size means you can pretty much always add them to a live gig, and program parts on the bus or train and fit them in your bag without having to worry.
I just do hope Roland has a new big – little? – idea. Because they are running out of back catalog to reissue. Although we’re now in such strange territory, if anyone wants to take bets, let’s go.
Missy Elliott has been honoured with her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The star was unveiled yesterday (9th November), with the iconic rapper attending to give a speech accepting the honour. During the speech, she paid tribute to her “sisters in hip hop”, including “the ones that’s popping now, the ones that’s about to be popping”, and her “godmothers”, such as Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Roxanne Shanté, Angie Stone and MC Lyte.
“Y’all are the backs that we stand on,” she said of those that came before her. “Y’all are the foundation.”
Lizzo, Ciara and Elliott’s manager Mona Scott-Young also attended the unveiling ceremony, giving their own speeches about Missy Elliott’s influence on their work and careers.
“I’ve come here 20-something years ago and just used to walk past all these stars and just imagine,” Elliott also said during her speech. “It’s just a blessing to dream big and it truly happened. I’m truly standing here.”
In her speech, Ciara said Elliott “paved the way for me and so many others who followed”, adding that “there is no one like Missy. She oozes with boundless creativity, a visionary, the epitome of true artistry. Strength, integrity and grit. She created genre-blurring sounds of a modern hitmaker that continues to define space and time.”
You can watch part of Elliott’s speech below.
Earlier this year, Missy Elliott was featured among a number of pioneering women in hip hop in the book ‘The Motherlode’.
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