Moses Sumney Calls Out Misrepresentation of Black Indie Artists in Media

The conversation began with a tweet by Complex mislabeling a folk artist as a “soul” singer.

Indie rock has always had a diversity problem—even today it seems like so many of the projects founded by black artists are inspired by the uncertainty of occupying predominantly white spaces. While most of these artists get overlooked, those who don’t can’t manage to shake the context of their race—and more offensively, are mislabeled according to racial prejudices.

This is something Moses Sumney drew attention to earlier this week when Complex posted a since-deleted tweet about a black folk artist whose music the publication referred to as “soul.” “It’s incredibly exciting to see a black girl playing guitar and writing narrative lyrics And incredibly stale to see it boiled down to ‘soul’ music,” Sumney wrote. “Let black girls write folk songs! I promise everything will be okay.”

The message inspired plenty of affirmation from users drawing attention to media sites’ use of the term “soul” to describe English songwriter Lianna La Havas’ music, as well as Father/Daughter Records chiming in to note how frequently they see the tag applied to their artist Tasha. 

From there, the conversation turned from misrepresentation to under-representation, with Sumney drawing attention to how many talented black artists are currently flying under the radar. “There are so many overqualified black indie artists whose careers would be running CIRCLES around these Caucasian indie crusties if they were white,” he tweeted shortly after, following this up yesterday with a thread of artists not receiving due praise, including Yves Tumor, NNAMDÏ, and Father/Daughter’s Christelle Bofale, among others. View the full thread here. 

Anyway, here’s one of the many bizarre videos from Sumney’s stunning new LP græ: Part 1, out now on Jagjaguwar.


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