The Music That Made Us
Despite creating the sound now immortalised in musical history, Black musicians often did not reap the financial rewards of their talent. The birth of the blues often saw artists concealing the markers of their blackness at the behest of commercial record labels. Today, Dave’s ‘Black’ tops the charts and JHUS’s diasporic rap dominates dancefloors nationwide. This panel looks back at this journey, celebrates and interrogates; what does it mean if Black is the new blueprint for independent success?
Chair: DJ Semtex
Whether it’s predicting, championing or developing the artists of tomorrow, the prolific DJ, broadcaster, author and producer has played a vital role in the careers of some of the world’s biggest names and remains one of Hip Hop’s most influential global ambassadors.
DJ Semtex has forged a career bridging the gap between both sides of the Atlantic. Whether that’s presenting the likes of Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar or Drake to a UK audience before anyone else; or putting US heads on to the latest flock of talent to come out of the UK, he is often the conduit connecting both sides.
The singer, songwriter, and producer responsible for seminal tracks ‘Dami Duro’ and ‘Fall’: the former of which became the longest-charting Nigerian pop song in Billboard history. With two BET Awards, a Nigeria Music Video Award, and two MTV Africa Music Awards to name just a few of this artist’s accolades; Davido is bringing his music from Atlanta via Lagos to the world.
Who’s that girl? Grammy award-winning rapper, singer and actress, Eve— that’s who. The artist responsible for hits including ‘What ya want’ and ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’ takes to the Southbank stage, proving once again that she is one of the best female hip hop artists of our time.
Arguably the UK’s number 1 Afrobeats promoter, SMADE has been essential in bringing African nightlife to the UK. SMADE is also a co-founder of the hugely successful Afro Nation, inspired by a vision of creating an “unforgettable experience” that would “celebrate love, peace, unity and the beauty of African culture”.
Chaka Pilgrim is a veteran music business executive with over 30 years of experience spanning music, touring, film and management. She currently serves as the Head of Film and TV for Shawn Carter Enterprises. She most recently served as Label President of Roc Nation, and has held lengthy tenures at labels such as Roc-A-Fella Records and Island Def Jam. She has worked with a multitude of iconic acts including JAY-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kanye West. Ms. Pilgrim has overseen the visual component of every JAY-Z album, culminating in Executive Producing all of the visuals for his iconic and most recent 4:44 rollout.
Grammy Nominee who hails from the Volta Region. Born on March 5, 1988 in Ashaiman, a suburb of Accra. Stonebwoy rose to international stardom after being the first artist of his kind to win a BET Award in 2015 and has subsequently won many other international awards such as Afrima, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award as well as receiving nominations from MTV EMA, Grammy Awards and more.
Today, the result of his hard work is certainly paying off. The ‘Go Higher’ Hitmaker has collaborations with international acts from Africa, the UK and Jamaica such as Sean Paul, Trey Songz, Kranium, Samini, Obrafour, R2Bees, Patoranking and Burna Boy. He most recently collaborated with Beenie Man on the title ‘SHUGA’, which saw a record-breaking first-week views of 500,000+ on YouTube. He is also the second ever brand ambassador for Samsung in Ghana.