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Meet The #YouTubeBlackVoices Artist Class of 2021

Creator & Artist Stories

Meet The #YouTubeBlackVoices Artist Class of 2021

  • By The YouTube Music Team
  • Jan.12.2021
Meet The #YouTubeBlackVoices Artist Class of 2021
These artists and groups — from the United States, Kenya, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria — span generations and sounds.

Throughout history, Black artists have innovated and influenced every genre of music in immeasurable ways. To both celebrate and nurture Black artistry around the world, we developed the #YouTubeBlack Voices grant program -- an initiative dedicated to equipping up-and-coming Black creators and artists with the resources to succeed on our platform. This grant program is part of our larger #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, a global, multi-year commitment to uplift and grow Black creators and artists on our platform, as well as to produce and acquire new YouTube Original programs, focusing on racial justice and the Black experience.


Today, we’re proud to introduce the 21 artists joining the #YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021. These artists and groups — from the United States, Kenya, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria — span generations and sounds. Whether drawing inspiration from R&B, reggaeton, emo, afrobeats, rap, punk, country, funk, or spaces beyond, their work expresses the power of their vision and their passion for pushing their communities and music forward. 

The Artist Class of 2021 will receive dedicated partner support from YouTube, seed funding invested into the development of their channels, and participate in training and networking programs focused on production, fan engagement, and wellbeing. 


We built the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund to invest with an intention: to present fresh narratives that emphasize the intellectual power, authenticity, dignity and joy of Black voices, as well as to educate audiences about racial justice. Since the launch of the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund in October 2020, we’ve introduced incredible #YouTubeBlack Music moments such as the MOBO Awards honouring achievements in music of Black origin in the UK, The Legacy Series: Fashion Show, spotlighting emerging creators in Black British fashion and music, 2 Chainz’ “Money Maker Fund'' series highlighting HBCU entrepreneurs, as well as the Masego’s diaspora-celebrating “Studying Abroad” livestream


Of course, our work is not done. As Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube, has emphasized, “This race to equality is a marathon, not a sprint.” We’re honored to invest in the Class of 2021 and their stories, and can’t wait to invite more artists to join the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund in the future. 


Please meet the the inaugural #YouTubeBlack Voices Artist Class of 2021:


Brent Faiyaz

Columbia, Maryland, United States


Brent Faiyaz: “Black art influences the entire world. From the way we dress to our language to our style we've been able to turn our pain and our trauma into inspiration and creativity. Ain't no history more captivating or motivating than Black history. The art is simply a reflection of that.” 


BRS Kash

Atlanta, Georgia, United States


BRS Kash: “Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s all about patience and treating people the way you want to be treated. You can do anything that you put your mind to. I see myself being real big, planting my seeds in the industry and being a music mogul. I’m not confined to one genre; my music spans every emotion that you can feel. By looking at me, you might not think that. That’s what makes me so special.”


Fireboy DML

Lagos, Nigeria


Fireboy DML: “I make Afrobeats, but with a bit more soul and lyricism. That’s the spice I bring that makes me different.  I’m inspired by human emotions and how they affect our decisions. And I’m on a mission to further cement my sound in other parts of the world, pushing afrobeats to the global scene.”


Jean Dawson

Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico / Los Angeles, California, United States


Jean Dawson: “My videos are how I express my worldview. They’re how I connect to fans and the world at large. From Tijuana to San Diego to Los Angeles, my upbringing and my experiences impact everything I make. I’m inspired by design and creative feats. I make pop music, without adhering to any specific rules.”


Jensen McRae

Los Angeles, California, United States


Jensen McRae: “As a Black woman in America, I'm often asked to act as a spokesperson for my whole community, specifically in spaces where people who look like me are underrepresented. I decided to lean into that as an artist, and use my music as a way of illuminating one tile in the mosaic of the Black American experience. I grew up in predominantly white environments, and often felt like I was on the outside looking in. While it could be alienating, it also made me into a better observer, of others and of myself.”


Jerome Farah

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Jerome Farah: “My music is a reflection of myself. Every song sounds different from the next. What you hear is my way of expressing my feelings. I believe in my work and I know once people hear it they’ll understand. The hard part is getting it heard, so I’m thankful for this platform.”


Joy Oladokun

Nashville, Tennessee, United States


Joy Oladokun: “I’m a combination of the three most despised things in America as a Black queer woman living in the South. So virtually everything I do comes from a self awareness that my identity impacts what I say and how it’s received. I’m Black and have always been Black and will always be Black! My music pays respect to what has come before me: You can hear soul or rock, power ballads, even recent pop music. Those textures are the backdrop for what I do, which is so personal. My music is an avenue for my own personal catharsis, and I hope others can experience their own awakenings through it, as well. Before selling out venues or getting number ones, what inspires me most is thinking about young girls of color seeing artists that look like them.”


KennyHoopla 

Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States


KennyHoopla: “I’m fortunate to be in a situation where I can make music at a greater scale, but I would still be doing it if I wasn’t in this situation because I love it. I put my heart into my music. I want to be honest and vulnerable, and to connect with others that may feel the same.”


Mariah the Scientist

Atlanta, Georgia, United States


Mariah the Scientist: “I’d best describe my music and creative work as passionate and honest emotional expressions on a sonic canvas. Between my name, Mariah the Scientist and the music I’ve written, I’m just a girl who dropped out of college to sing about relationships that have influenced my damaged perception of love. It’s very intense and shows the darkest parts of my emotions. I don’t usually regard myself as a singer, but I definitely consider it art. It is poetic. “

MC Carol 

Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


MC Carol: “My music shows that I am a strong woman, but I am also fragile. We all have our moments. I try to give people strength and self-esteem, even if I don’t always have that in my own life. I bring some joy. I turn bad situations into happy songs. All my life, I heard that I would be a bad person. At times, I was alone, depressed. I wanted to escape reality. One thing I’ve learned with my journey is to have boundaries. I added some limits to my life, and learned to have some discipline. I have to be well-rested to perform. In the world I come from, Black women are always diminished, in every possible way. So I can’t stop. Black artists and Black people inspire me: to pursue, to insist, to fight.”


Miiesha

Woorabinda, Queensland, Australia


Miiesha: “Doing music as a career didn't really seem possible where I come from, but every little chance I had I took, no matter how scary. Each time someone would be there to encourage me to keep going. My identity as an Aboriginal-Torres Strait woman is everything. It has shaped the world around me, the stories I tell, and where I'm headed. For my voice and my music to be supported by YouTube is insane! I'm very proud of where I'm from and to be able to represent my people.”


Myke Towers 

Quintana, San Juan, Puerto Rico


Myke Towers: “Black artists shape the world by making us feel like we are all one. They give me the inspiration and motivation to represent my people. I just want the world to know that in Puerto Rico there is a lot of talent. I feel gifted and that my music is unique. I want to be remembered as a kid who followed his dream all around the world.”


Péricles

Santo André, São Paulo, Brazil


Péricles: “My music is made for everyone. I’ve always valued a good melody, but also a beautiful lyric. The main motto is love. Singing love and carrying positive messages is what inspires me every day. I was a young Black man from a less affluent class, who had to make a great effort to succeed in the face of a society that excludes and discriminates. I have not lost my character as a young dreamer. I believe my generation has paved the way for more people to realize that it’s possible to win, and I still want to be an agent in building a fairer and happier world for everyone.”


Rael

São Paulo, Brazil


Rael: "Black artists changed the world around me. Music was a way for me to rescue my identity. It’s like looking in a mirror and expanding my own consciousness, to acknowledge who I am and who I can become. That my potential is bigger than the space they have given me, and that I can be more than that. My music tells people to be free, to be whoever they want to be. I want to be remembered as someone who has helped to build the road that future Black generations can smoothly walk by. To be an artist wasn't a choice, but it's a way for me to fight my battles, use art as a tool and to be able to speak to people through it. A shout out to Racionais [MCs], Bob Marley, amongst other black artists. I am grateful for them. Black music changes the world, and it's the sound of the future. This is Rael!"


Rexx Life Raj

Berkeley, California, United States


Rexx Life Raj: “I’m a melodic post-hyphy rap singer. My music is honest and personal. If you listen to my music, you really know me. You know about my friends who’ve passed or are in jail, or what’s going on with my parents. At the core of it all is resilience. Like other artists, I’ve had ideas that were bigger than my bank account. This opportunity allows me and my team to execute our ambitions to the fullest.” 


Sauti Sol

Nairobi, Kenya


Sauti Sol: “Our identity informs our sonics, our storytelling, and our fashion. Much like our country, Kenya, our music is multi-layered, with an East Africa groove. Our passion is for the craft and artistry of music, and our music is a soundtrack to people’s lives.”

serpentwithfeet

Baltimore, Maryland, United States


serpentwithfeet: “I became an artist because I needed to be expressive. I am inspired by my former music teachers who encouraged me not to obsess over the outcome but to enjoy the creative process. I have chosen to be an artist because making things nourishes me. On my journey, I have learned that studying and researching is essential. We must honor our legends before we add anything to the conversation.”


Sho Madjozi 

Limpopo, South Africa


Sho Madjozi: “My music is loud. It sounds current, it sounds urgent. Ultimately, it’s a screenshot of life as a young African woman. Whether it’s asserting my independence, whether it’s talking about love, or lost love. I want to be remembered as someone who made it cool to be African and cool to be yourself, someone that presented new ways or different ways of being at this time. More than anything, I want a more equal future, where the color of your skin or the village you happen to be born in does not have a significant impact on how far you can go.”

Tkay Maidza

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


Tkay Maidza: “I feel like lots of Black women have to work twice as hard to get a platform, and when you’re an international artist trying to break in the U.S., it’s even harder. My lyrics are often about wanting to create a better environment for myself, or find inner peace. My music is introspective, about my observations of the world and what I’d like to manifest. It’s genre-fluid, on the border of alternative rap, pop, and dance. I’m inspired by the idea of creating a world, where I can explain how I feel and understand myself in new ways, whether musically or visually.”


Urias 

Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil


Urias: “My music expresses that I’m confident and strong, that I’m not afraid to be afraid, or to feel anger. You can dance and scream along. I want the world to know that I’m not just my gender or skin color. I’m a complex being, like everyone else. I want to be remembered for opening the doors, and filling the room with people like me. I want to create a future where my problems won’t be the next girl’s problems.”


Yung Baby Tate

Atlanta, Georgia, United States


Yung Baby Tate: “I make empowered music. No matter the genre, no matter the mood, every song is a bop! I’ve put a lot of effort into creating a strong sense of myself. People can look at me and know, no matter what, That’s Tate.”


Check out music from these artists on the Class of 2021 playlist here.