While Black TikTokers are hitting pause on their creative endeavors, here are just a few musicians to listen to while championing those fighting for proper credit and coin.
Last month's Black Music Month was a major cultural touchpoint in our lives—especially during this past weekend’s BET Awards. The past 30 days have indeed been a marvel to witness. From watching talents such as Grace Victoria and Kaash Paige turn viral hits into Billboard chart numbers to seeing sun kissed folks step into their sonic purpose, 2021 is dripping with extra-melanated melodies to marvel and enjoy.
This is especially true when it comes to Black creators on TikTok.
After a recent trend saw un-sunkissed TikTokers usurping Nicki Minaj’s “Black Barbies”—a song about Black women—Black creators shouted out the controversy and went into strike over the action. The embarrassing Jimmy Fallon kerfuffle—where he only invited Black TikTokers on his show after being flamed for letting Addison Rae teach him their moves—and attempts to erase Jalaiah Harmon as the O.G. Renegade dance creator, and you can see why the e-streets ain’t taking it no more.
Black creators pulled the plug and went into strike over the action. The hashtag #BlackTikTokStrike proliferated social media, while the white masses were left to serve raisins-in-the-potato-salad dance attempts to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Thot S**t”.
This moment in our current history-making year is meant to be an emboldening of Blackness, not a balm on those attempting to dilute our flavor. The #BlackTikTokStrike represents a concerted effort to fight against culture vulturism and showcase why they are one of TikTok’s biggest drivers of creativity and content.
It is a poignant moment in time where the credit (and the coin) will be given to the deserved.
“TikTok is a special place because of the diverse and inspiring voices of our community, and our Black creators are a critical and vibrant part of this,” a spokesperson for the social media platform shared with EBONY. “We care deeply about the experience of Black creators on our platform and we continue to work every day to create a supportive environment for our community while also instilling a culture where honoring and crediting creators for their creative contributions is the norm.”
And while TikTok isn’t aware of all those who are participating in the dance strike, we don’t want it lost on anyone just how dope and important these Black music makers, choreographers, and dancers are to the culture. So, if you didn’t get the memo that “we not helping them this time,” let this be your late pass to follow plus support these Black music creators on TikTok—heck, all Black creatives for that matter.
KIRBY is an anomaly and if you haven’t heard her work, you can start with “FourFiveSeconds,” which she wrote for Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney. Her style is rooted in Black and beautifulness, while offering Memphis-cooked substance. Aside from her accomplishments as a songwriter, KIRBY’s debut EP Sis belies how she uses TikTok to project “Black is Awesome” vibes, while showcasing her own superpower—as her single with D Smoke would suggest. As Black creators step into their own and fight for ownership behind their own work, KIRBY is a great example of a standout who wants to embolden change on the TikTok platform.
A forward-thinking creative, Bran Movay is an R&B artist whose string of singles deliver honesty and color in an increasingly gray-and-bland online experience. Blending hip-hop, neo-soul and, of course, R&B, Movay’s self-produced 8-track project included the lovely song, “Mama,” which made him a budding fixture on Spotify. A Dallas, Texas original, this flamboyant force of good—and his Flower Talk EP—can be a great project to play while supporting those who are advocating for change with the #BlackTikTokStrike movement.
Representing the Big Apple, where everyone is not guaranteed to make it, 19-year-old Kyla Imani is making it happen in a multifaceted way. Infusing bubbly melodies into the supercharged engine known as Gen-Z pop culture, Imani, a singer-songwriter and NYU sophomore, ensures all bodies move in unison with her relatable songs. As a new voice in a growing legion of young women performers, Kyla Imani is using her platform to extend beyond just beats and rhymes to share her journey and inspire others to stand up (and stand out) for what they believe in.
Driven by a deep desire to make music that speaks authentically to the community he is from, Piff Marti, a New Yorker, has built a cult-like following from his work. He got his first taste at success after uploading a series of self-produced music videos to TikTok that have since accumulated millions of views combined. Imbued by impressive lyrics, shea-buttery-smooth flows, and production meant to create unlimited vibes—Piff Marti’s enigmatic styles create a relatability in his music that will be welcomed once a resolution to the #BlackTikTokStrike happens.
DAMOYEE, a Dallas, Texas multi-hyphenate artist, is a classically-trained composer, songwriter, and #OverjoyedChallenge participant. Her music has been featured in films, at festivals, and transcends genres, while her performances highlight how beautifully Black her work is. Through self expression, self confidence, and self determination—DAMOYEE represents a spectrum of sound that not only infuses Black American music like jazz, pop, and R&B, but also impresses the notion that Black culture is everlasting and evergreen.
In a time when change is needed more than ever on TikTok (and in the world), Jac Ross emerges as a member of the cultural change agent group that reminds us how important we are. A Darkchild records signee with almost 270K followers, Ross has soul-stirring vocals that speak to the struggles and successes that come with being a music creator. A surprisingly nimble voice in the R&B collective, Ross is an important addition to advocating for changes in the TikTok community, while his silky and powerful voice on “It’s Ok To Be Black” sets the tone for appreciating Blackness.
A New York City-based independent artist and producer, who also does his own stunts, Kenn Igbi has impacted the charts with his brand of confessionally-epic music. With almost 40k followers, Igbi connects listeners to his story through relatable songs and a collection of self-directed short vignettes. In serializing his content for an engaged audience, Igbi is an artist who creates excitement within the anticipation—while helping to direct the Black culture to support one another.
Kevin L. Clark is an editor and screenwriter who covers the intersection of music, pop culture and social justice. Follow him @KevitoClark.