Carl Craig’s All Black Digital:
28 Tracks for Each Day of Black History Month
Carl Craig’s All Black Digital:
February 11, 2022
28 Tracks for Each Day of Black History Month
Last year, my series All Black Vinyl was developed as a means to celebrate Black History Month here in the United States, but also as an outlet to play the music that’s in my collection and to give the people something that they probably weren’t really used to in 2021 — spotlighting the individual songs themselves and not songs that are in the mix.
What was great about All Black Vinyl was that it touched a lot of people, getting a positive reaction from not only people here in the US, but from all around the world.
All Black Digital, my new collaboration with Beatport, is the next logical step from All Black Vinyl because there’s so much more in the collections that you can find in digital than on wax. With my selections for Black History Month 2022, I tried to pick things that were not typical to Beatport as well. I think people have an idea that when they go to Beatport, there is a certain type of sound or style of electronic music that they expect to hear. However, Beatport has everything, from rap to jazz, to Avante-Garde and more. Whatever you want to look for, you can pretty much find it on Beatport, and that was really an important factor for me in working with them and selecting the following songs for All Black Digital.
Goldie – Inner City Life [Metalheadz]
There are a few tracks that are drum & bass here — from Goldie, Dillinja, and Roni Size — to let people know that drum & bass is a distinctly black music style. I feel like many people don’t understand that, and “Inner City Life,” being the pinnacle of the beginnings of drum & bass’ golden age, it’s the perfect tune to use as a spotlight track.
Dillinja – Grimy [V Recordings]
This one shows the hard side of drum & bass, like the genre’s seriously tough and hard side. Dillinja’s is a critical voice to put on this list.
Roni Size – The Sky [Full Cycle]
This presents another side of the legendary Roni Size. It’s not the jazzy side that he’s most known for, but this track shows off Roni’s straight, hard-hitting drum & bass style that many may not know about. He’s one of the best who does it, hands down.
DJ Minx – Do It All Night (Honey Dijon Remix) [Planet E]
Showing off the feminine side of what’s happening with house and electronic music these days, we have the amazing DJ Minx. We see so much of the female Belgian DJs and female English DJs out there doing their thing, but I think many black women might get lost in the mix. We have to celebrate women DJs who come from Detroit, women of color DJs, and DJ Minx is one of the people who have been around for almost as long as I have, and she’s killing it.
DJ Holographic – Faith In My Cup (feat. Apropos) [Planet E]
DJ Holographic is a newer DJ from Detroit who’s been around for a few years, but she’s really on the path to success. Her single “Faith In My Cup,” which came out via my Planet E label back in 2021, is indicative of her rise to stardom.
King Britt, Tyshawn Sorey – Untitled Four [The Buddy System]
I would have to say that King Britt is the spokesperson for Afrofuturism in music. He delves deep into the classes that he teaches at UC San Diego and at USC, and this track shows the hybrid mix of avant-garde jazz mixed with modular synthesis that he’s known for. And it all comes from this distinct Afrofuturism lens.
Taylor McFerrin, Robert Glasper, Thundercat – Already There [Brainfeeder]
Robert Glasper is an amazing pianist. I love what he’s done with integrating jazz, hip hop, and electronic music. And “Already There” shows the perfect merge between those styles of black music.
Adrian Younge – Voltage Control Orgasms [Linear Lab]
This track really shows not only the futurism of electronic music, but also the blackness of electronic music. But what’s essential and often gets lost in the mix is that there is always a taboo that said Black music, in Black American music especially. Part of the taboo that a lot of people don’t understand these days is the sexual connotations that are a part of Black music. “Voltage Control Orgasms” shows not only that sexual nature that is prevalent and has always been prevalent in Black music, but it also brings that synthesis thing — VCOs VCAs, etc. So, I love that!
Seun Kuti, Egypt 80 – Corporate Public Control Department (C.P.C.D) [Strut]
This is another track that spotlights another factor that is important in black music, and that’s politics. And you know, Sean Kuti, of course, goes on from his dad, Fela Kuti, and he modernizes the sound and makes it so hard, so amazing, and it’s so Black.
Sun Ra, The Sun Ra Arkestra – Children Of The Sun [Strut]
Sun Ra is one of the great pioneers as far as jazz and electronic music is concerned. He is ground zero to me, and “Children Of The Sun” mixes the African backbeat, but also the thing that many people try to relate to these days in electronic music: the beats, the sun, the party, and all this kind of stuff. Sun Ra brings it into this Afro-futuristic imagination that brings African music, jazz, and all the elements and ideas of electronic music altogether.
N.W.A – 100 Miles and Runnin’ [Priority Records]
Bringing it back to politics and the militancy of what comes into Black music and then the realness of what Black music has been about. The struggles of living in the hood, the struggles of having problems with police every day, and being looked at in certain ways is something that I don’t think is exclusively a Black American thing but is definitely something that many Black Americans live through.
Andrés – Tonight, We Rise [Moods & Grooves Records]
Now addressing some Detroit genius, Andrés has always made such wonderful music, and I chose to include “Tonight, We Rise” for the simple fact that it’s one of his newer tracks. Because… Andrés.
Moodymann – Downtown [KDJ]
This one speaks for itself. It’s a beautiful track that again shows that crossover between jazz and electronic music, especially house music.
James Brown – Get Up Offa That Thing (Release The Pressure) [Polydor]
James Brown. Ground zero funk. For anybody to understand what Black American music is, you have to have heavy doses of James Brown giving you funk on the one.
Zapp – Heartbreaker (Part I, Part II) [Late Night Tales]
Zapp and his partner Roger Troutman have been so influential in rap music, but I don’t think many people realize how influential he is to techno and electronic music. “Heartbreaker,” “More Bounce To The Ounce,” “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” they’re just hard-hitting funk, and that’s what techno borrows from that.
Derrick May – Icon (Montage Mix) [R&S Records]
Derrick May is my mentor, is an idol of mine, and he’s one of the guys who made techno happen. There would be no Detroit techno if it wasn’t for his being 15 years old taking tracks to The Electrifying Mojo to get Cybertron on there. So part of this list is also the respect that I give to my brothers in music.
Drexciya – Black Sea [Clone Classic Cuts]
This track belongs here because it’s a Detroit track because it’s a great track and because one half of Drexciya, the late great James Stinson, is unfortunately no longer with us. And part of what I’m putting into this list is the works of musicians that we have lost within our electronic music scene. It’s important not to forget the people that put the time in and made great music and are no longer here with us.
Suburban Knight – Predators Language [Underground Resistance]
Predators Language by Suburban Knight was one of the first techno records that I ever heard and loved. He’s one of those underestimated, and I think underrated Detroit artists. There’s not a lot of music from Suburban Knight, but this track is something that I really had to include because of my deep connection to this artist.
Public Enemy – Rebel Without A Pause [Columbia]
This track defines the militancy that definitely rubbed off on Underground Resistance, Robert Hood, and that whole world of Detroit Techno. Public Enemy’s height was around 1987 and 1988, so “Rebel Without a Pause” sort of became the template for anything that happened in regards to militant techno back around the inception of the genre.
Robert Hood – The Struggle [M-Plant]
Robert Hood’s “The Struggle” again plays into that relation of militancy in techno music and the importance of having someone that puts political views into the music. This one’s based around George Floyd, an essential tune.
Armando – 100% Of Disin’ You [High Fashion Digital]
Armando is another legend and fallen soldier. He was an artist from the early days of house music that was making this hybrid of house and hard techno. The techno genre wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for what a Mondo did with his beats. I think there are probably a lot of people that are making techno these days that have no idea who Armando was, and fail to realize how much their style borrows from what Armando did.
Ash Lauryn – Dancin In The D [FWM Entertainment]
Ash Lauryn is another fantastic female artist from Detroit — currently living in Atlanta — that is important to know. She’s here, she’s doing it, and she’s absolutely killing it.
K-Hand – Stars [Acacia Records]
Respect to K-Hand, another amazing artist that we lost last year. This is a classic from her that I don’t know if a lot of people know, but it’s an important track when talking about the development of Detroit house music.
Javonntte – Remember [Quintessentials]
This one encapsulates everything about Black music, whether it’s house or techno or disco or anything, because the whole song just represents every club that he had been to in the Detroit area. So, do you remember Club 246? Do you remember going to Music Institute? Do you remember this? Do you remember that? That’s how we talk in Detroit. It’s an important piece of music to put here because it shows the culture of not only who we are in Detroit, but how the culture of Black music is because, you know, these conversations happen in rap they happen in jazz they happen in everything.
M5 (Gerald Mitchell) – Celestial Highways [Rawax]
Maybe hands down one of my favorite techno tracks. It has the elements of driving techno but the beautiful chord structure and soundscape of synthesizers and electronic music that make techno what it is. I mean, this might actually be the most perfect techno track that’s ever been.
Waajeed – Tron [Deviation]
Even though Waajeed is known for making this great soulful house music and comes from the world of J Dilla (who was his mentor) “Tron” really brings that sound of what he learned how to do into this world of techno. It’s got that same kind of thing as “Big Booty Express” from J Dilla which really showed how influenced he was by techno.
Speaker Music – African American Disillusionment With Northern Democracy Continues To Smolder In Every Negro Who Has Settled Up North After Knowing Life In The South [Planet Mu]
Speaker Music, aka DeForest Brown, is a very intuitive and brilliant thinker that is a representative of the Make Techno Black Again movement. This track puts politics into the music again, and it really puts it heavy-handedly, showing us that politics in music didn’t die with Public Enemy. It’s definitely aimed at the younger generation of music makers and it’s important to know that this is the case.
Paul Johnson – Welcome To The Warehouse [Trax Records]
Paul Johnson, who unfortunately passed away quite recently, made so many classic Chicago house records. “Welcome to the Warehouse” might not be his most famous track but it certainly encapsulates the feeling that I’m sure he had when he was going to see Frankie Knuckles play at a warehouse or something. That’s how I interpret it at least.
Sinistarr – The Other Tune [Free Love Digi]
Sinistarr is a great American drum & bass artist from Detroit that makes this really hard-hitting American style of the genre. While it’s definitely respectful to the sound and roots that the founders of drum & bass created, it definitely has this uniquely American and Detroit-influenced twist to it that is just fantastic.