As you know by now, we aim to curate the most important music industry news on a weekly basis. However, this week might have been more important than any other week. For this reason, today we are only focusing on important news related to the black community. We want you to read with us. We want you to not look away. We want you to be uncomfortable. This week we want you to read about George Floyd’s legacy, the deeply rooted racism in the music industry, and the black voices who are tirelessly working on making the world a better place.
In a powerful Instagram video, American musician Gary Clark Jr. opened up about how he is feeling about the current racial tensions in the US. “I feel like every time I walk out of my goddamn house I could die today,” he said. “I’m a six-foot-four black man. I’m probably some of y’all’s worst nightmare.” Please spare a few minutes to watch this heart-wrenching video.
The time has come for us to stand up for what is right and what is equal, against systemic racism and black oppression. What is happening and what has been happening to the black community for decades is wrong, and change can only be made if we dare to speak up. We at Record Union decided to speak up. Read our statement and action plan.
Check out our list of resources if you feel overwhelmed by the news and you’re looking for a trusted source to start educating yourself. Here are some insightful books you can read, fantastic films you can watch, educational podcasts you can listen to, important petitions you can sign, and key organizations you can donate to.
George Floyd – the 46-year-old black man who was suffocated to death by a white police officer in Minneapolis – used to be an affiliate of DJ Screw’s legendary Houston crew. The community now remembers Big Floyd with some recently surfaced cult-classic The Screwed Up Click tapes.
Houston rappers Paul Wall, Bun B, Trae tha Truth, and Cal Wayne discuss the legacy of George Floyd. Read their stories to find out more about Floyd and his important role in the community. “He shook the world. Big Floyd is really Big Floyd now. He’s a martyr now.”
“He had a good aura about him. You look at a dude that big and think he has to be some type of extra-hard gangsta, but he was the exact opposite. That’s why you hear a lot of people call him the gentle giant. He had a heart of gold.”
Nikki Jean (St. Paul-based singer-songwriter), Dua Saleh (Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter, artist, activist, and organizer with Black Visions Collective), Matt Allen (Twin Cities rapper and activist) and more artists discuss the history of racism that led up to George Floyd’s killing and the protests that have followed.
Did you know that 80.6% of the UK music industry is basically run by white people? Emerging artist manager Allan Siema shares his personal experience of being a black person in the British music industry.
VICE’s Kristin Corry shares a personal and heartfelt opinion piece on how the music industry exploits and abuses black talent on a constant basis, and how society values black lives as entertainment instead of people. She also calls out labels promising “to do MORE”, asking for the real meaning behind the empty words.
Here is a great article by the Noisey Staff, packed with useful ideas for supporting the black community right now. What can you do? You can purchase music and merch directly from black artists and black-owned labels, you can read and share the work of black music and culture journalists, and more!
Have you ever heard of Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins? He was born in 1849 and he was one of the most famous and successful American performing pianists of the 19th century. Can you take a wild guess if he could ever enjoy the benefits of his wealth?
Read veteran British artist manager and label executive Keith Harris’ open letter to the music industry, calling for substantial change. Harris has worked with the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and to this day he represents Stevie Wonder.
You might not be aware of it, but your current favorite track would probably not even exist without the black community. Why? Well, we owe electronic music and the club culture to black and brown communities in the US. Electronic Beats is showing some well-deserved respect while sharing history.
Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang created #TheShowMustBePaused as an initiative to disrupt business as usual in the music industry. However, they never asked for black squares, silence, and taking a day off…
Here’s another perspective on the meaning of true accomplice work and worthless performative allyship in the online landscape of the Blackout Tuesday movement. To show true support and initiate long-lasting change, they suggest donating, learning, and acting up.
High-profile musicians call for the aforementioned true accomplice work instead of millions of meaningless black squares. As silence can only slow down real progress, Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Kehlani are asking everyone to put their posts into context and share donation and petition links instead.
If you’re curious to see what the music industry was really up to during Blackout Tuesday, this is a good article to dig into. Warmer Music pledged $100m, Columbia Records launched The Promotion Coalition anti-racist fundraising, there’s been 75-person Zoom calls, town hall discussions and more.
What’s next? Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang are working on clarifying the needs and mobilizing the people to be the change they (we) wish to see. The #TheShowMustBePaused hashtag was shared more than 700k times, and we hope we can see some real changes coming up in the real world, not just in the world of hashtags.
Bandcamp did it again. This coming Juneteenth (June 19, pretty big deal) and every Juneteenth after, Bandcamp will donate 100% of their share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. They also donate an additional $30,000 per year to partner with organizations that fight for racial justice and create opportunities for people of color.
It was just recently announced that the hip-hop superstar is officially a billionaire – and he’s not afraid to show it. He just made a whopping $2 million donation to support the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.
The Weekend is urging his 23m followers with “big pockets” to follow his lead and donate to non-profit organizations and he is also pushing major labels and streaming services to do what needs to be done. Inspiring work!
In honor of George Floyd, Jay-Z and Roc Nation took out full-page newspaper ads across the US. The ads featured a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a speech in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.
The two-time Grammy winner hip-hop veteran sent a really strong message in a format he’s best in – fiery rap! His message was the following: “For 400 years you had your knees on our necks / A garden of evil with no seeds of respect / In America’s mirror all she sees is regret / Instead of letting blood live they begging for blood let.”
A lot of high-profile rappers have hit the streets to join the protesters but just as many have dug deep in their pockets to donate to various freedom funds. Here’s a detailed list of rappers stepping up when it’s needed!
John Legend, Common, The Weeknd, Lizzo, Jane Fonda, and others have signed a new open letter to demand divestment from police and investment in black communities. They request more money to be spent on healthy communities, neighborhood infrastructure, education, and childcare.
White supremacists were planning a field day in the middle of the rebellions by promoting their #whitelivesmatter agenda but K-pop fans intervened in a really creative way. They flooded the hashtag with their own material, wreaking havoc with humor!
Music says more than a thousand words, you could say, and many artists are using their channels to communicate some vital messages. While police brutality and racism are not a fresh topic in hip-hop, Complex curated a continuously updated list of new tracks that were released in response to what’s going on right now. Turn up the volume and fight the power!