What a year. The FBI is investigating Diddy. Queen Bey gave us a country album with flawless runs like only she could. The rap girlies delivered our annual summer bop. We entered Black Music Month on the heels of Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s epic battle for the soul of hip hop, and I am reminded of Andre 3000’s passionate and direct assertion amid the East Coast West Coast rivalry. 

Mainstream Black music has undeniably shaped culture and will continue to do so, but having to come to terms with the financial and sexual abuse in the entertainment industry and the conglomerates that control a great deal of the music distribution landscape as we have never had to before; it is imperative that we take some time to recognize Black independent musicians. These musicians often add originality, diversity, innovation, and authenticity to the landscape. 

We celebrate Black Music Month because of the unique relationship Black music has with  American culture as it was born in the spirituals sung by our ancestors in the midst of their oppression. And so many genres have emerged from the Black experience since then including Jazz, Blues, Soul, Country, Rock and Roll, Funk, R&B, Hip Hop and Rap.

Dead Prez said “the label is that slave ship.” How very telling when you consider the heritage of America’s most innovative musicians. The irony that descendants of slaves still don’t own their art stings.

Major artists are pursuing alternative music distribution strategies. Kanye West and Pharell self-distributed their albums. Megan Thee Stallion inked a distribution deal with Warner Music while remaining an independent artist, and other artists have med similar arrangements.

We have a responsibility to support artists that are determined to be free. They set an example of self-actualization and illuminate our lives with vulnerability and authenticity. As the producer of “Indie Rooftop,” a documentary series featuring independent musicians of various genres, I put my money where my mouth is. I believe in art, culture, and humanity. The people are my constituents and they always get it on time. Subscribe to be notified about the series and its presentation. Donate or buy something while you’re here. Art is expensive.

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