There are some styles of music that get codified early on, and then musicians play by certain rules in order to fit in with a group of artists and succeed in their genre’s community. But that’s not the case with black experimental music, where it’s best to surrender to your musical intuition instead of relying on a definition. I, for one, listen for creativity, off-kilter sounds, and anything and everything that veers away from popular aesthetics. Sure, it’s possible for black experimental musicians to cross over to the mainstream—like Funkadelic, Outkast, Erykah Badu, and even Kendrick Lamar—but that popularity doesn’t deter those artists from continuing to shun musical norms and cultivate music from their own imagination.
The way I became a vocal proponent of black experimental music was by loosening my own reins as a music critic. Experimental music reveals itself to the world—it finds you and pulls you in. Those nuances of strangeness—the tiny surprises of beats, reverbed whispers, overlaid vocals, and sounds that don’t quite make sense—call out to you, and these artists ask you to listen on a deeper level. This Black Experimental Mixtape Series exists for that purpose. I’m not here to tell you what I know, but to share the sounds that come out of the deepest recesses of black artists’ psyches and creative inner worlds.