Over the past two months, the world of music has fundamentally changed. Long gone are the days of waiting for your favorite artist to drop an album on iTunes or Tidal. You no longer need to sign up for secret concerts to hear your favorite emcee or spend hours online to see if you can cop tickets to Coachella. Now, many of our favorite music artists are streaming nightly, sharing new works, the classics and keeping us moving in the age of quarantine.
Today, millions wait with bated breath to see the next Verzuz battle (will it ever be able to top the moment when Babyface and Teddy Riley broke the internet?). On our Instagram feeds some of our favorite DJs spin deep cuts and emerging artists host concerts on the internet, all without the paywall.
Here is our list of the top musicians, producers and emcees you need to be listening to right now to keep you uplifted, singing and dancing through the pandemic.
Let it breathe. DJ D-Nice has transformed the way we all listen to music. Whenever he has a late-night set on Instagram Live, thousands listen in. It’s like hanging out in the VIP section of a club you could only dream about. On any given night Michelle Obama might be in the room. Other times it’s Nile Rodgers, Halle Berry and even the great Quincy Jones. D-Nice’s Club Quarantine mixes are legendary. He’s the only DJ we know who can play a 70s disco set featuring Melba Moore and then transition into some New Kids On The Block before bringing in Kendrick and Dru Hill and make it hot! And his homage nights are even better. He celebrated the life of the late Bill Withers and even saved all of our lives the night that the technology just wouldn’t work with Babyface and Teddy Riley. In that and countless other times of need over the last few months, DJ D-Nice has been there, taking us to another world with every song we needed to hear for hours of quality dance time.
We used to love when we would catch Questlove sets at Brooklyn Bowl. Our fellow Philadelphian and charter member of the Legendary Roots Crew, his depth of musical knowledge is unparalleled. We even celebrated the life of Prince there with him a few years ago when the Purple One left us all too soon. But since we’re all sheltering at home these days, you can now catch Questlove spinning on The Roots YouTube channel. He never misses a gig, and elevates our minds and musical understanding. His evening dedicated to Prince is worth listening to again and again.
Another Philly Classic, the man who is always at the top of our Top Five is taking us into the depths of his creative genius with Streams of Thought. The series, on The Roots YouTube channel, is a dive into the world of Black Thought touching on everything from chats with fellow icons to samples of what he’s dreaming up for his upcoming Broadway play. He’s hosted conversations with some of our favorite artists, including Bisa Butler and Jamel Shabazz. His Tiny Desk at home performance with NPR is a must-see. And while we are still hungry for Volume 3 of Streams of Thought (only freestyles will hold us down at this point, lol), watching his interviews on YouTube is definitely tiding us over for the moment.
Live on Instagram, H.E.R. treats us to her series, Girls with Guitars. Joined by special guests, including Chloe and Halle, Lianne La Havas and Sheryl Crowe, H.E.R. is using music to heal and raise crucial funds. Brands including Amazon Music, Lyft and MusicCares have joined the effort, which helps raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund. By viewing each episode, you can help raise thousands of dollars to help with the pandemic crisis.
Swizz Beatz and Timbaland have teamed up to deliver us some of the most amazing moments during the age of quarantine. Through Verzuz TV, the producers responsible for whole eras of music are showcasing live battles that we could have only dreamed of previously. The two started Verzuz with a heads-up between each other. Since then they’ve showcased a series of epic matchups including RZA versus DJ Premier and the record-breaking, Instagram-crushing, Babyface versus Teddy Riley. The real winner of these battles has been the internet, with millions watching and enjoying songs that have been too long in the archives.
Erika Hamilton is one of our favorite New York City DJs. In NYC, before social distancing, you could catch Erika spinning at some of the top spots for rooftop parties – the Skyroom, The W, Jimmy. We first caught her at Dumbo House in Brooklyn and were hooked. With a love of 90s hip-hop, Erika The DJ brings an old-school vibe to her sets and hosts one of the most fun dance parties on IG Live.
Soon you’ll be able to experience live music events with AphroChic. We’ll be taking our podcast, One Story Up, live on Instagram. We’ll be hosting some of our favorite artists to perform their latest works. Our goal is to provide you with great, inspiring entertainment while you stay home.