20 Black UK house music acts you should know about
Kwame Safo picks 20 Black UK house acts who are pushing things forward
Pivotal and exciting Black talent sometimes has to fight a tide that's resistant to its visibility. This has now been highlighted as a flaw of the music industry that seeks to partition Black creatives by design. The fact that some prominent figures in electronic music as a whole have been alienated from any real coverage speaks to the elitist nature of many aspects of the music journalism field. Below is a list of 20 Black UK house music acts you should know about.
Tippa, IC, Feva, Kismet and Supa D – Circle is the house collective formed on Deja Vu 92.3FM and continued on Rinse FM. The DJ and MC collective have a distinctive style and probably exist as the first house supercrew within the underground rave circuit. The collective remains one of the most powerful identities in the articulation of underground Black spaces and house music creating sub-genre movements classed as Dubbage. Individually and as a group the members are a perfect example of longevity in the field.
Dudley (House ENT)
Founder, promoter of House Entertainment (or House Ent), Dudley came about at a very important juncture of the house transition into tech house in London. His collective House Ent consisted of Lee B3 Edwards, Anticx, Jay Forbes and Kay Josè and the parties held in places like Raduno’s were incredibly popular. From his first event in April 2009 at Camden Rock until now, Dudley provided new fresh faces in house music via his platform and arguably was the point of introduction for many Black Londoners into the wider discipline of house music and raving. Dudley is currently in the process of documenting his brands journey independently, mainly as the story has been ignored by mainstream music publications. Sadly an all too familiar experience for many Black promotions.
An exciting DJ who has won many fans and supporters in the house scene. Angela Rose’s style is a fusion of afro and deep house but also articulates a very important understanding of the genres and subdivisions – a necessary prerequisite for a specialist DJ.
Supa D is widely heralded as the DJ who curated the funky house scene in the early 2000s and supporting some of the first producers of the genre in Apple, Fingaprint and Tadow. Funky house is an amalgamation of broken beat, soulful and tribal house sounds and new exciting takes on the production style. Supa D is another Deja Vu FM alumni who still commands a committed following. Supa D currently has a new single out now called 'Kings & Queens' with Mr Taffa and vocal talent Lushkells.
After leaving Deja Vu FM to head to the commercial radio platform Kiss FM, DJ Pioneer has been incredibly consistent championing all aspects of the UK house movement. Pioneer has the longest running UK house show on a commercial radio platform. An incredible achievement, which has not had its full recognition within music media publications and once again highlights the scope of talent diminished over the years.
Ghanaian born MC and producer, and founder of the brand Broadcite. Fusing influences from across the African Diaspora, T.ROY has built up an established brand over the years and catalogue of music for his own record label Broadcite Music. Before the wave of South African influenced afro sounds took hold of London’s underground T.ROY had already been incorporating West African influences into his musical palette. Broadcite Music continues to enhance the image of Africa and it’s relationship to contemporary Broken and House music.
Shiloh is an exciting DJ who has forged a strong lane with her radio shows on House FM and keen ear for new tracks in the arena of deep tech. An incredibly hard working DJ, who has also used her platform and brand Virtuoso to amplify other exciting female DJ talent in the wider world of house, Shiloh has most recently curated a stage at 51st State festival. Shiloh typifies Black female talent within the deep tech house subdivision. The levels are high. The shockingly low representation of these women at festivals and gigs doesn’t mirror this though.
Peckham's best kept secret Wbeeza has churned out quality house music for many years being a favourite of brands such as Secretsundays and dropping iconic releases on the Third Ear record imprint. One of the most important production talents in the UK, Wbeeza has always existed in his own lane sonically and was only exposed to underground audiences via Kismet (Circle, Originals) playing his early productions on radio. Wbeeza currently runs his own imprint Peckham Fly and can be found more recently with fellow Peckham resident Henry Wu (Kamaal Williams) in collaborative projects.
Simone Martinez is an effervescent afrohouse DJ originally from Manchester who has built a strong underground following with her energetic mixing styles and fearless experimentation. Simone has been diligent in her fast rise and releases mixes regularly showcasing the latest discoveries and appearing at times with fellow afro DJ Angela Rose. The house community has a poor record of showcasing Black female talent in general. Simone is one of many new and exciting faces hoping to change that representation.
Liverpool-based Tekla is one of many examples of the younger production talent in house lacking amplification. Debut releases on my Houseology label were followed by further releases on Dirtybird and Cuff. Tekla channels a raw industrialism into his productions steeped in philosophy and direction.
Marcus Nasty is a big and passionate personality who has been involved and spearheaded several junctures of British Black music from grime, UK funky and bass to name a few. Marcus has been an important conduit in the relationship between DJ and MCs in clubland. His A&R prowess has brought to the attention of ravers and radio stations acts such as Lil Silva, Hannah Wants and many more. The term “UK Funky” itself was coined by Marcus as a means to collectivise the multiple sounds on display in club land circa 2007 and incentivise UK producers new and established to contribute to a new era of UK dance music.
The DJ and producer from North London has crafted a strong identity first as part of House Ents and then also as a solo entity. Lance Morgan has celebrated releases on labels such as MadTech Records and currently is working on future releases on his own imprint District 9. A gifted DJ who has already established a strong following via his shows on Rinse FM and club bookings in and around Europe.
The two DJs Steven Cee and Majesty’s club night and record label is fast approaching its 10th year. Holding its first event in 2011 and since then having numerous events in Ministry Of Sound and Brixton 02 Academy. The hugely successful night has grown from strength to strength despite battling discriminatory club policies such as the 696 risk assessment form (scrapped in 2017). The brand fronted by the two Black promoters has struggled against systemic racism for many years, but Steven in particular has continued to be vocal in his campaign for parity in the world of promotion for Black events.
The award-winning broadcaster, DJ and record producer has still struggled to receive the appropriate recognition and visibility despite having the most popular dance show on the BBC Network (*correct as of 8th August 2020). Mistajam has since transitioned into a new radio role in, leaving BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, after some 15 years, to spearhead the brand new Capital Dance radio station from Global. Mistajam is without a doubt the most influential Black broadcaster in dance music. Why the music magazines don’t reflect this is the real million dollar question?
Candice first started DJing in 1999 and since then has amassed considerable experience in the discipline which have seen her land the role as head A&R for DJ Spen’s Quantize Recordings label. All this, and while hosting a popular radio show on Premier Gospel. Candice’s “Sanctified Selection” is a perfect meeting place of gospel and soulful house which airs every Monday night on the station. Candice has also recently released a new compilation for Quantize Recordings available on Traxsource.
Already earmarked by Mixmag in their Lab sessions series in May this year, the He.She.They resident is an incredibly exciting prospect in the world of house and the amplification of Black women in the genre which has a shockingly low representation across the board. Syreeta has already shared line-ups with the likes of Jamie Jones, Dusky, Archie Hamilton and O'Flynn and post-Lockdown looks to continue the incredible momentum.
Scratcha’s contributions to the world of electronic music are irrefutable. The forward-thinking record producer has a fearlessness about him which allows the scope of house and techno from UK perspectives to be pushed and challenged artistically. Scratch has had a long relationship with Kode9’s Hyperdub imprint, but is fluid in his articulation around the 4x4 time signature. Scratcha’s “mad scientist” approach to electronic music is deeply refreshing and too often taken for granted.
The London-based DJ, music producer and broadcaster has been diligent in her pursuit of her passion. Kemi who started her career in 2005 under the moniker ‘Jessica Rabbit’ has held down numerous radio shows and residencies in the capital and abroad. Currently Kemi presents her monthly showcase Dub Kitchn on Bloop Radio, is a resident DJ for Morning Gloryville, and can be found regularly playing at events by Spotify.
Marcia Carr is an example of what true authenticity and love for dance culture looks like. Her time on the dancefloors has seen her transition to the role of tastemaker and curator. With over 35 years experience in and around Black underground music, Marcia has always been in the mix with equally esteemed members of the UK house and broken beat fraternity. From Phil Asher, Marc Mac and the late great Paul “Trouble” Anderso.
Afrohouse specialist DJ, Ari3s has exuded passion in her craft for many years. Her show 7th Heaven airs on Bloop radio where she goes into the mix with essential new music and guests like KG and Hagan. Always active, check her Facebook to see the workrate: over lockdown Ari3s has been steadily doing a slew of online streams and mixes, making her stand out as one of the most active DJs on the circuit.