Highsnobiety

This piece is a part of the Spotify Frequency series, where we highlight some of the most prominent voices helping rewrite the narrative on Black music and culture. Learn more about Spotify's Frequency and all of their featured artists here.

I’ll say it again: Black music is @#$%&! important. For years, Black artists have been pioneers within the music industry, forging new sonic paths and embracing techniques once thought to be obscure but now dominating popular culture. Think of the haunting vocals on Billie Holiday’s rendition of “Strange Fruit,” sampled by various artists in recent years. Or, J Dilla’s revered incorporation of sounds in his production that modern producers have closely mimicked. Even Langston Hughes’ silky delivery of spoken word acts as a prelude to some of the best wordsmiths of our current era of music.

Built on a foundation that encourages innovation, the Black musicians of today are still finding new ways to play with the template created by generations of voices that preceded them. Despite this drive to introduce new perspectives to one of the most admired creative disciplines, talented Black artists still see their music relegated from mainstream attention if it doesn’t properly fit into a worn-out mold that perpetuates a specific image of Black culture.

Spotify / Ian Woods, Spotify / Ian Woods

It’s easy to forget that actual Black music isn’t a monolith and that many names and faces work together to produce a beautiful manifold of creative expression and authenticity.

Two artists that represent the diverse range of Black artistry are Canada’s Chiiild and Maryland’s Foggieraw. Both create imaginative melodies and tones that help build out a fuller image of what it means to be a Black artist. Still, in method and delivery, they differ drastically, creating two distinct entry points into a shared community.

Hailing from Montreal, Chiiild began his music career as a songwriter/producer, experimenting with unique sound creation and sonic manipulation. After his days spent behind the scenes, the resourceful artist stepped into the spotlight, presenting a signature sound and aesthetic once contained in the recording studio. With soothing tones and placid instrumentals, Chiiild’s soundscapes blend various sounds that immerse the listener into a new world reflecting his story and image.

"To say that Chiiild is defying the odds and charting his own path within the Indie space is an understatement. He is a manifestation of our ancestor's wildest dreams. Seeing him incorporate self-reflection, experiences, boundless sounds, culture, and the nostalgia that comes with growing up in Canada into his music is truly special. Being a Black Canadian is a nuanced experience in and of itself, especially when you factor in the sacrifices many of our parents made in order to establish a life in a country that was not their own. Chiiild wears all of this with a sense of pride and quiet confidence that is impossible to ignore. Though he humbly acknowledges all of the musical acts that inspired him, it is not lost on him that these same artists pulled inspiration from Black culture. It’s almost as if he went in search of himself, yet there he was all along." - Shantel Noel, Artist & Label Partnerships, Canada.

Foggieraw, on the other hand, has always made sure he and his music have garnered attention from the public eye. With effortless swag and charisma, the PG County product has amassed a following for his smooth delivery and suave demeanor, an aspect of the artist that shines through clearly on his tracks and in his visuals. His cadence displays a charming bravado, seamlessly meshing with lyrical content that incorporates his deep faith and passionate religious views.

"Spirituality is nuanced but, often it’s defined through such a narrow lens, especially in music. Foggieraw, a D[M]V native by way of Ghana, is reshaping what it means to be led by faith while staying true to yourself, and to your art. Eliminating restrictions on his expression, he challenges the status quo of both industry and religious community. A storyteller, Foggie's authenticity builds a world for listeners to join in. Visualizers like “Pslam 62” over Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name”, pull you in with each frame. He has a way of making you feel like you’re there, much like his prolific influences: Outkast, Pimp C, and MF Doom. And like them, his delivery has only become more fluid and specific over time. Combining that with personal and spiritual alignment, it’s only up from here for Foggieraw." - Domo Wells, Lead, Music & Culture.

Recognizing the impactful influence Black artists like Chiiild and Foggieraw have on music and the culture at large, Spotify created its signature Frequency content brand, a global initiative designed to support artists who are unapologetically changing the face of the game.

Launched in 2021, Spotify's Frequency celebrates Black art and culture in all forms, both on and off the popular streaming platform. From supporting community spaces like Black Market Flea to producing docu-series like Free Studio and Sunday Dinner, Frequency is committed to highlighting Black artists pioneering new waves across multiple genres while also creating a space for conversation and advocacy on a larger scale.

We sat down with the two artists to dig a little deeper into who they are and what has shaped their respective musical experiences.

So Chiiild, Canada (Toronto, especially) is known for having a burgeoning music scene and producing many talented artists. Being from Montreal, describe the environment and the impact the city had on you creatively.

Chiiild: Montreal didn't have as much of a music scene, so a lot of the creative energy was generated just for the sake of coming up with the most interesting and inspiring ideas. I think that led to everyone defining their own identity before trying to go “commercial.”

You switched from being behind the scenes (songwriter/producer) to becoming a lead man. Talk about the motivation to start putting your music out for the world to hear.

Chiiild: Music isn't meant to live on hard drives. It's meant to be shared with people, whether it's millions or hundreds. That was the driving force behind the switch for me.

What are the most significant differences between the two roles you’ve played?

Chiiild: You only manage the music when you’re behind the scenes. Being at the front, you are not only managing the music but also your appearance. This makes you have to accept yourself in different ways. It challenges you to find the best way to represent yourself and your music.

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Right! Foggie, when did you realize you wanted to pursue your musical passions?

Foggieraw: When I was in college. I was actually in the nursing program, and I flunked out. I was like, “Damn, this has to be it for me – music,” and that's when I started really taking things seriously.

How would you describe the music you make?

Foggieraw: The music I make is, you know, fly, cool, expressive, honest, and vulnerable.

What’s the “fly-est” line you’ve delivered on a song then?

Foggieraw: I had a line that went: “You don't wanna see me, on TV, doing the Dougie - when they tell you I'm not the daddy.” That one sticks with me.

But you haven’t dropped a full-length project in quite some time. You’ve been teasing a lot of music on IG, though; any insight on when we can expect a larger body of work?

Foggieraw: If I can keep getting away with doing big stuff like this without dropping music, I might never!

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That’s fair. Chiiild, I’m curious, what’s your earliest music memory that you can think of that helped shape the kind of music you create?

Chiiild: One memory that comes to mind is listening to “Pala” by Friendly Fires, hearing all of the unique samples they used, like flipping the noise of an iPhone shutting off into something musical. That song opened my mind to reaching for sounds beyond just instruments.

I assume that creating that kind of music requires a specific energy when recording. So, what’s your perfect vibe in the studio?

Chiiild: The perfect vibe in the studio would include the following things for me: a bottle of white wine, some tea, palo santo burning, dim lighting, some tungsten, a warm temperature, an assortment of synths and random instruments to play with, and a couple of friends for good conversation.

Knowing that Frequency is a content brand on Spotify that celebrates the future of Black expression, what do you think your expression offers to the world?

Chiiild: My expression offers a different path for young black artists. The indie and alternative space throughout the 2000s was very one-dimensional, and now we have so many paths to follow.

Foggieraw: I think my expression offers something different in the world. Ever since a kid, I've just always been such a disruptive kind of spirit. I always wanted to do something my way or a new way, and that's what I always aim to offer–something different.

Spotify / SHAUN LLEWELLYN, Spotify / SHAUN LLEWELLYN

Check out Chiiild, Foggie, and other talented Black artists on the Frequency content hub only on Spotify.

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