Five Black DJs You Should Know
It isn’t a secret that today’s EDM is the product of Black influence. The very fabric of the genre itself is a combination of disco, hip hop, and dubstep forming what we now consider to be electronic-house. While white and non-Black people of color now dominate the DJ industry, it’s important to examine the foundings of the genre itself and turn our support to the Black producers who pioneered a movement in the revolution of music as we know it.
As mentioned above, modern EDM is a combination of several other genres picked apart to form something new entirely. Fragmented lyricism and highlighted rhythms are courtesy of dub, Jamaican music that flourished from the late 60s to the mid-80s. Turntablism and beat manipulation stem from hip-hop, which found its popularity in the Bronx in 1973. Lastly, we thank disco for the groove and funk, as pioneered by Black outfits such as Earth, Wind & Fire.
Unsurprisingly, Black artists do not make a huge appearance on popular lists of EDM musicians. Despite their influence on the genre we know and love today, Black DJs are often pushed aside for white producers to shine.
Below is a list of five Black DJs and producers that you need to be listening to.
Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano
Hailing from the Netherlands, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano form an unforgettable DJ duo, making it clear that two heads are definitely better than one. They have accumulated over 1.1 million monthly listeners on Spotify and are best known for 2018 single “Savages.” Their story begins much earlier, however, and in the unlikeliest of places: the pair met in 2006 while working at the same retail clothing store. They got their big break in 2013 when their single “S.O.T.U.” reached #2 on the Beatport Top 100.
One of the largest names in EDM, you’re probably already familiar with Afrojack if you know anything about the genre. Since 2010, this Dutch DJ has maintained an unbreakable streak of starring in the top 20 on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs. In 2011, he featured on Pitbull’s number 1 hit single “Give Me Everything”––arguably the official anthem of that year. His musical talent extends to many of the hits we know and love, including contributing to Beyoncé’s single “Run the World (Girls).” He even has a Grammy to boast: 2011 Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for his work on “Revolver” with David Guetta.
You may know Marc Kinchen by his stage name MK, or you may know him from his number-one spots on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club Play chart in 1993 and 1994. Either way, the American DJ is best known for his incredible remixes and songwriting work for Pitbull, Jaden Smith, and even Beyoncé. We suggest his 2019 chart-topping single “There For You.”
Best known for his remix of Arlissa and Jonas Blue’s “Hearts Ain’t Gonna Lie,” Eden Prince is a London-born producer with distinguishable work in smooth, summery house music. He first appeared in the music scene with remixes and covers, but has since shown off his creative powers with his original productions, most notable in his 2020 EP Memories. His first original song, 2017 single “Obvious” was sampled by Marshmello and Anna-Marie in their platinum-certified hit “Friends.”
With decades of industry experience under her belt, Ultra Naté is a seasoned American DJ and singer with a line-up of hit singles to boast. She does not miss the beat––virtually all of her singles have reached the Top 10 of the US Hot Dance Club Play chart. Some of those singles are “Show Me,” “Give it All You Got,” and “Love’s the Only Drug,” but that is just scratching the surface of her hits discography. In 2016, Billboard ranked her the 12th most successful dance artist of all-time.
This American singer and producer has a number of aliases he publishes his house and techno music under––Cajmere, Geo Vogt, Half Pint, Curan Stone, and Gino Vittori––but he is best known as Green Velvet. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, he grew up listening to blues, jazz, funk, and rock. He discovered his calling, house music, in the 1980s when the genre first emerged. In 1992, his collaborative single with fellow Chicago-raised singer Dajae, “Brighter Days,” peaked at number 2 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. In 1995, he came back to top a Billboard chart with his single “Flash.”