- Jacob Funes
Know and Love SLC's Black Music Makers
Every industry has been churning out responses to the current turmoil in our country surrounding racism and police brutality, and the music industry is no different. And while here in the music section at City Weekly I've taken efforts to make sure our Live Music Picks are never only full of white faces—or particularly white male faces—I think in order to avoid the lip service that's been going around in music circles, it's worth devoting this Juneteenth-adjacent issue to some of the Black artists that fill SLC with their sounds. Not just that, but I want to encourage readers who already know and love these artists to seek out their music to buy, and for everyone else to check them out for the first time. SLC is often accused of being too white, but paring this short list down the four folks highlighted here was actually pretty hard. Like other members of the SLC music scene, I'm still figuring out how to do more for Black artists and other artists of color in our city. This list is just one small part of that.
Perhaps one of SLC's most recognizable names in general, Joshy Soul is always where the party is—in fact, he brings it. And he's been bringing it for the past several years, fine-tuning his funk- and soul-infused pop sound into what it is today. The result is that he's now one of the best locals spinning out that kind of sound, and all of the bright and dreamy attitude that comes with it, which is unsurprising for someone with as much natural charisma—and snappy dressing—as Joshy Soul. You can stream his 2016 album Vintage Dreamin' on Spotify, but since I think we can all agree at this point that Spotify rips artists off, head over to Apple Music or joshysoul.bandcamp.com and buy it instead. Follow Joshy Soul on Instagram for proof of that snappy dressing, too (@joshysoul).
If, before the grim days of COVID-19 gripped us tight, you went dancing around any of the trendy downtown SLC venues (like Alibi), you were probably at one point in the grip of Concise Kilgore and his delicious tunes. Concise has been a consistent name on the rosters of venues and clubs all around town for years, and he's cemented his place as a crown jewel of underground hip hop over those years with releases like 2006's Digitalis, 2016's Kil Joy Division and 2019's Prom Ride. That latest work shows a far more experimental side to Concise, utilizing samples and fine-tuned production to turn out chill yet compelling tracks, glimmering with freaky synth work and slithering, glitched-out references to jazz instrumentals. Buy any of these releases over on Amazon Music and check out his super-slick clothing line, Avenues Prom Committee (avenuespc.com), which also features merch in reference to his side project Laker Girls (in collaboration with fellow local Bo York). Keep up with Concise on Instagram @ckg_007.
- Echo by Suroh
Hailing from the West Side, local rapper Izzy Davis has apparently been busy since the release of his 2019 album X-Communicated. Filled with somber vibes, Davis' wry and serious rap style tells tales of a turbulent childhood, making for an album that's stoic and jaded, yet still affected. On it he shows good range, from the dark and grim sensibility of the title track to the sunshiney "I'm Sorry," which is lifted up by plucky piano and accompanying vocals by Jae Lynn. While young rappers abound in SLC, not many seem to have access to the level of clean production apparent on this album, making the prospect of his upcoming June 19 release, Undiagnosed, very promising indeed. Available for pre-order, the album is a collaboration with local independent label LSTBYZ (pronounced Lost Boys, for those unfamiliar). A recent teaser video features LSTBYZ humorously dogging Davis and his "anti-Mormon hate speech" and his "trying too hard to be funny," before letting slip a few seconds of music—crisp, koto-soundalike beats are a departure from the chill-as-hell single "Vibe," but that's not a bad thing. Preorder the album at distrokid.com/hyperfollow/izzydavis/undiagnosed-7, and in the meantime find his prior releases up on Apple Music. Keep up with Izzy Davis on Instagram @tharealizzy.
- Justin Mousley
This local jack of all trades makes her own music, but also makes space for other locals to celebrate theirs. In addition to her rapping, local mover and shaker Pho3nix Child is a hoop flow enthusiast—and, from the looks of it, an expert in the twirly, precise art. If you're unfamiliar with hoops, I am indeed referencing the neon-glowing ones made famous by rave culture, but which for Pho3nix Child, compliment her otherwise colorful existence; one glance at her Instagram shows her low-key rap style is offset by a bedazzled and tie-dyed aesthetic. Besides making appearances alongside fellow hip hop enthusiasts at Hip Hop Organics shows, Pho3nix Child is the steward of the local music collective Zodiac Entertainment. The collective host events, and also features short interviews with local artists called A.rtists B.reakdown C.lub, and though Pho3nix Child seems to have been keeping it quiet during the pandemic, Zodiac Entertainment is now moving to celebrate local visual artists and is accepting submissions for the first edition of their new summer zine. Though she has no music for sale currently, this media master is the bright spirit many of us need right now to remind us despite it all, life is still ultimately good. Keep up with her on Instagram @pho2nixchild, at facebook.com/the.pho3nix.child and with Zodiac Entertainment happenings on Instagram @zodiacentslc and at facebook.com/zodiac801.