A Letter From The Editor: NIKS [Black Artist Database]
A Letter From The Editor: NIKS [Black Artist Database]August 1, 2022
Exactly one year ago (3rd and 4th August 2021), both Kelley Hand (K-HAND) and Paul Johnson were prematurely taken from us. Becoming known as ‘’The First Lady of Detroit’’ and ‘’The House Music Alchemist’’ respectively indicates the huge impact that both artists had on dance music individually. In the wake of these losses, I began to think about how we, as a global dance community, could and should better preserve our culture. It is often only at extreme times, such as learning of a death, that we begin to reflect on and celebrate the lifelong contributions of certain individuals. Instead, we ought to consistently amplify the voices, narratives and works of artists from our community as a way to continually elevate and celebrate them.
In June 2022, Tresor announced that they would be reissuing the Drexciya catalogue to mark the 20th death anniversary of James Stinson (one-half of the Drexciya duo). In July 2022, Larry Heard’s debut album from 1989, Amnesia — a timeless full material mastery piece — was reissued for the first time 33 years.
How are these reissues relevant to this piece? Reissuing the works of the greats – whether dead or alive – allows us as electronic music enthusiasts to celebrate the founders of this scene, honour their art, and show our sincere gratitude for the foundations that they laid. At the same time as we rewrite these trailblazers and their work back into the present day, we introduce a new generation of ears and minds to their timeless arte. Given the contemporary digital age we live in, we are in an even better position to archive and document our community, all of its artistry, and better preserve the sonic stories that we tell.
However, the reality of contemporary life also includes the continual erasure of Black stories, the Eurocentric lens through which our history is often retold, and a monopoly over the vital resources that marginalized communities lack. It is imperative that we develop the tools and mechanisms which enable us to archive, document, showcase and commemorate our artistry. This month’s Beatportal takeover will allow us to inscribe some of today’s emerging Black artists into the narrative and illuminate how they intend to shape, form, and grow our dance music culture.
This month we will showcase our breakthrough artist of the year (thus far), six emerging talents who are On Our Radar, and a feature-length Cover Story on an exciting new underground label making waves globally.
With the lessons we’ve learned through the loss of K-Hand and Paul Johnson, we can now look forward I hope to use this month’s takeover to shine a light on promising talents from the global Black dance music diaspora.
With contributions from the wider Black Artist Database family, we will extend beyond the remit of our immediate online output — the archival artist and creative databases, our Voices and mix podcast series, our editorial and historical think pieces — to centre the labels, DJs, producers and artists who are at the forefront of our eyes and ears. I hope that we can all contribute to remembering and creating legacies of Black creativity.