John Carroll Kirby - Septet

John Carroll Kirby is a pianist/composer/arranger from Los Angeles that has been working behind the scenes for years, collaborating with everyone form Shabazz Palaces to Blood Orange to Solange. He made his debut on Stones Throw last year with his full-length solo album, My Garden. He’s dropped a few singles since then, but now he’s back with the proper follow up, Septet. For Septet, Kirby is playing keys, but then he enlists the help of Tracy Wannomae and Logan Horne on woodwinds, Nick Mancini on vibraphone, John Paul Maramba on bass, David Leach on percussion, and Deantoni Parks on drums.

vHiktor freeze - settle in (chapter 2)

Just this past May, North Carolina artist Mikal kHill debuted a new name, vHiktor freeze, when he dropped settle in (chapter 1). It became clear very quickly why he chose to use an alias – this was a new sound. It’s all instrumental, chill downtempo beats. Now he’s come right back with a new EP, settle in (chapter 2). If you told me ten years ago that Mikal kHill was going to drop an instrumental project that had some Babyface influence to the production, I probably would have looked at you sideways.

Sault - 'Nine'

Just one year ago, a mysterious group from London with virtually no information about themselves made available called Sault got the attention of all the right outlets to spread the good word about their music when they dropped the album Untitled (Black Is). As clever as their marketing (or non-marketing) was, the proof was in the pudding as Sault delivered an ambitious album that blended multiple genres and spoke to all of the pain and resilience of the Black community being felt around the globe at the time.

Sweatson Klank - Jewels From The Sun EP

Sweatson Klank is a producer from Los Angeles that has been making music for over twenty years, first under the name Take before switching over to Sweatson Klank a little over ten years ago. He’s never really slowed down or taken much time off, either, with his last release coming out just this past January when he dropped his project Path of an Empath. Now he’s back to switch things up once again with Jewels From The Sun EP.

Nathaniel Cross - The Description Is Not The Described

Nathaniel Cross is a trombonist from South London who over the course of the last four years has played on records by everyone from Moses Boyd to Zara McFarlane to Sons of Kemet, as well as his brother, tubist/trombonist Theon Cross. Now he’s finally stepping out on his own as a solo artist, delivering his first EP on First Word Records, The Description Is Not The Described. For this project, Cross assembled an ensemble that includes Dylan Jones on trumpet, Richie Garrison on sax, Simon Mitchell on keys, and Saleem Raman on drums.

Allmos - Sound Affects, Vol. 2

Allan Cole, aka Allmos, is best known as one half of the Brooklyn production duo The Stuyvesants. As a solo artist, he’s done remixes for a few modern jazz-fusion artists, such as Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Braxton Cook, and Reginald Chapman. In 2017, he released his first solo album, Sound Affects, Vol. 1. Now he’s finally back with his second album, Sound Affects, Vol. 2. If you listened to Vol. 1, you won’t be surprised by what you hear on Vol.

BLKrKRT - Ancestors

BLKrKRT is a producer from Fort Worth who has been especially busy in 2021. In addition to working with Tornup on the album Hologram Zoo Vol. 1: The Crypt, he’s already released two collections from his Black Siddhartha series. With no signs of slowing down, he’s now back with a different solo project, Ancestors. With a look at the title and the timing of releasing this project the Friday before Juneteenth, it makes it easy to read this project as a rumination on African American history, a soundtrack to consider the roots of Black America.

Stimulator Jones - Dust Bunnies

Stimulator Jones is a producer from Virginia that has been releasing music since 2014. In that time, he’s released albums on Stones Throw and Mutual Intentions. Most recently, he released a dance music EP called Dance of the Universe in May of this year. Now he’s back with a collection of beats called Dust Bunnies. With a full-length album coming out in about a month, Dust Bunnies is definitely more of a warmup, as Stimulator Jones is collecting a bunch of his favorite beats he had in the vault.

Backxwash - I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses

Prior to the announcement of the Polaris Prize last October, most people outside of the Montreal music scene were not familiar with the name of Backxwash. When she pulled off the upset and walked away with this prestigious prize for her debut album, a lot of people went rushing to learn more about the artist. What they found was that this Zambian Canadian trans artist was not just someone with an interesting backstory, but a truly innovative and dynamic musician with a fresh voice on the mic.

Mykki Blanco - Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep

A little over a decade ago, the character of “Mykki Blanco” was created as part of a video art project, where Mykki was a teenage girl inspired by Lil Kim’s “Kimmie Blanco” alter ego. Well, it didn’t end there, as the project and character evolved, and the artist realized the power of using this character as a vehicle for self-discovery. That journey led Blanco into the world of hip hop, and after releasing a couple of mixtapes and EPs, they dropped their stellar debut album, Mykki, in 2016.