By Suffy Baala
An infectious melody lingers into the cavernous entrance of your ear canal, a rush of endorphins flood your body as you forget every deep trouble, in that moment the only thing on your mind are elated thoughts pure blissful serenity from the comfort of your bedroom to the warm bodies on a dancefloor the power of something that seems so simply crafted can have a major ripple effect ranging from latching onto memories for an eternity to being so moved that you’re possessed by a singer who at the snap of a finger puts you in a trance like a siren luring you at sea this is the power of pop. Pop music can range from containing positive affirmations that when sung along act out as spells that manifest before your eyes to sad lyrics accompanied by cheery beats causing an overload of tumultuous emotions pop music is a never ending shapeshifting entity the m ultitude of layers from a genre that usually gets overlooked by pretentious peers is simply some of the best music in the world.
My name is Suffy im a dj and writer best known from the moniker goth jafar and my old twitter arabthot. I live and breathe pop music because pop music changed my life I wasn’t joking when I said the lyrics contain positive affirmations; music can be so powerful it teleports you to places you can only dream about. My manic passion about the music I love has given me a wide array of opportunities [for example writing this piece]. As a black fan of pop music, I’ll be sharing my perspectives on an industry that is heavily white-dominated and will be highlighting a few of my favorite black pop stars who deserve just as much attention to their white counterparts.
The pop industry on the outside may appear to be a shallow uninspired commodity that has been lackluster for a few years now in the “mainstream” scene but to quote dj and producer Danny L. Harle, “there seems to be a never ending search for authenticity especially in pop music and it’s like the harder you look for authenticity the more it isn’t there because it’s a sort of a farcical search really it’s really quite funny when you think about it because, like, often the things that sound the most authentic are actually the most constructed there’s like a hyperreal authenticity and often the stuff that sounds the most fake has been constructed with the most authenticity and is actually the most transparently fake which is sort of how the most authentic pop music actually sounds”
Over the years, the pop music scene has birthed treasures of hidden gems that the general public are just now starting to find out about such as the PC Music collective, but with every music scene there is heaps of racism and antiblackness that gets brushed away and overlooked. Being on twitter you see a lot of ignorant things such as racist stans being edgy for fun or just being history revisionists of music. For example, Britney Spears is the princess of pop but her biggest music influence is Janet Jackson and it very obviously shows in pretty much most of Britney’s career but there are people who actively try to deny Janet Jackson’s influence because they refuse to believe a black woman birthed their favorite artist! Janet Jackson birthed Britney Spears and Britney Spears gave birth to almost every other modern day pop star; her legacy continues but will never truly be replicated. With Britney, the pop star formula was born. She is the blueprint for the business model of how to develop, market, and sell a pop star. Over the years, pop culture and music shift as most things do while pop music and eurodance were starting to leave the charts in 2014 for a more EDM and heavy trap-based approach to music. The underground pop scenes were starting to flourish such as the PC Music collective who incorporated a sense of beauty about living in a digitized commercialized world in their whimsical approach to pop, with the help of Charli XCX in 2016 she helped propel what was once an underground music scene to a wider audience.
With rap based music taking over most of the charts from what was hailed as a golden age of pop in the early 2010’s with artists such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, etc this left many stan twitter users with a vitriolic animosity towards rap and its creators. Rap is some of the most beautiful music on earth; the way rappers convey their emotions over hard hitting trap to ethereal beats makes it very jarring when you’re scrolling through twitter and seeing someone with a very one-noted taste in music say, “rap is disgusting because it isnt pop” or how someone can’t appreciate Future’s “Codeine Crazy” is beyond me! The antiblackness that sinisterly seeps through the stan twitter spheres grows larger by the day with the absence of pop in the charts people were flooding to the underground pop scenes that breathed a new life into the genre. Like Nicki Minaj having sons, Britney Spears has multiple sons and Charli XCX is one of them. Charli was conceived by Britney Spears album Blackout [prod by danja] which is hailed as a turning point in pop music to this day the album sounds like it could be released today i could write a thesis on Blackout alone but that’s a topic for another day. With charli rising to fame for her abrasive yet sleek style of pop thanks to production from the late SOPHIE and producer A.G. Cook she became the face of an exhilarating and growing pop scene.
Over the years, I have seen the rise and falls of what would be promising young women in pop who sadly just turned out to be racist. It has gotten to a point where I assume every nonblack person has said some heinous shit in their careers. Pop gives me very needed bursts of serotonin the escapism flies me away to distant planets, but it all comes crashing down when you realize that even in the solitude of some of my favorite music you just can’t escape the evils of the world. It’s moreso disappointing than anything when you see an artist you actively respected say the n-word when they’re white or talk in a blaccent when they are from Europe or see them follow anti-trans accounts, support israel,are pro cops, work with known abusers, etc. I could list all of the people i’m referring to here but i’d rather not give them free press. Instead, i’m going to be highlighting some of my favorite black artists in the pop world who are extremely underrated and navigate being in a heavily white dominated spaces while making some of the most next level music that I know will be cited for years to come.
Black pop star list:
Tama is an nyc-based artist and model who hails from Miami. He makes dreamy pop that elevates me high above in the clouds their voice could be compared to the airy feelings of daydreaming wandering to unknown places with a lover to the feral energy of being enthralled by a new found crush their versatility in music makes me excited for the future of pop.
Thing i associate with their music: airbrushed tees, palm trees, nebulous clouds, fiery orange sunsets, mdma, whale tail thongs
The swedish based singer was the first black artist to be signed to PC Music [about time]. Her music wraps me in pure ecstasy from the bubbly sparkly nodes in production her music is enchanting yet incandescent like every scorpio she allures you without even trying the floating sensations of doing drugs surrounded by loved ones on a dancefloor blurring the visions of reality melting into one another to speeding across a freeway with no inhibitions is what her music does to me.
Things I associate with their music: pink glazed donuts, motorcycles, lipgloss, femme fatales with guns, black anime girls, magical girls, latex, namilia thotfits, lit up dancefloors, nightcore
the colorado based artist is a young musical prodigy who was birthed by the elusive ayesha erotica they are imo the only person who gives justice to ayesha’s eccentric production and musical flair. That kids music is fast paced like a zooming rollercoaster that speeds through luxury malls and taco bells the hyper speeding sensation leaves your hair in a mess comparable to the after effects of intense rough sex like star crossed lovers doing sodomy their music is sugary sweet yet horny a perfect combo. I’ve heard demos of their next project and its some of the most beautiful pop i’ve heard in my life so get ready for that kid.
Things i associate with their music: plaid skirts, lollipops, crunchwrap supremes, pink private jets, gay porn, pretty boys,
the berlin based artist has been one of my biggest musical influences since i was in high school discovering his music on tumblr has catapulted me into a world of unexplored rave music watching his artist evolution over the years has been inspiring from being a dj/producer to a full fledged femme fatale triple threat his sultry voice accompanied by his sensual pulsating beats makes him a true star! his magnetic energy is transferable through his sexually explicit lyrics youre possessed by sex demons on the dancefloor sweat is exorcised from your body dripping down like an exotic dancer on a pole the heat from surrounding bodies of mutants monsters priests and the devil himself are all there to see lsdxoxo perform
Things i associate with his music: rosaries filled with ketamine cruel intentions style, x-men, buffy the vampire slayer prosthetics, fangs, kill bill, erotic 90’s porn, succubius, gregg araki film aesthetics, raves in cathedrals
the london based artist has captured the attention of millions with her silky hypnotic vocal tone her cadence is pure unfiltered sex whenever she speaks it dominates the room like a mystical being in latex forcing every man in sight to obey her every wish and command. Simply stated she is a bad bitch a siren on the rocks calling you into the deep.
Things i associate with her music: rottweilers, swarovski jewelry, burberry handbags, rich men, dominatrixes, latex animal hoods [think catwomans mask], razor sharp nails, sirens
she is the rave princess her cunning mind was birthed by musical legends ranging from the prodigy, azealia banks to britney spears you can hear their influence throughout her music but she conceives something special whenever she’s in the recording studio her music is high energy pure blissful rave anthems that consume a dance floor in combusting flames a rapturous shaking from ravers mouthing along to her songs she dictates a room with ease, her raspy voice is seductive, like mystique the shapeshifter her versatility is beyond this dimension who knows what mood you might catch her in an entity of pure talent she can do it all a rockstar popstar raving princess hannah montana could never
Things i associate with her music: ketamine, neon greens, masculine + feminine energies intertwined like yin & yang, grace jones katrina portrayal in vamp , motocross clothing, chains, jaguar eyes, margiela tabis, hackers , blasia, fenty gloss, raves with a sea of tweakers
the swedish singer is honestly in my eyes a pop star, a beautiful soul navigating this planet in the best ways they could. Their music gives me gender euphoria because from my perspective there’s so many hidden layers and subtext of their lyrics that a lot of trans people can relate too eccos music transcends gender they’re a genderless glowing orb of light in a serene forest who serenades those who are willing to listen. They have an angelic voice i always say they make music for faerie entities
Things i associate with their music: neopet faeries, sparkling fresh snow, glaciers, dior trinkets and charms, estradiol valerate, side quests, final fantasy
Erika de Casier
if there’s anybody on this list that i’m most excited about its miss erika de casier who recently released her sophomore album “sensational” she gives a true homage to the y2k era of sparkles in rnb instead of being a tired britney spears femmebot clone she actually captures the sound of the early 2ks in the best way ive heard in a long time its as if she came from the future in the year 2223 she was constructed in an incubation pod artificially inseminated with brandys full moon and sade birthed under the moon light only to emerge from the pod in a viscous fluid like neo in the matrix and coming back to our timeline to share the most iridescent sounding production that is her music so silky ethereal and just fucking fun shes the true princess of gen x softclub keep your eyes out for her. Busy is my song of the year and its going to be very hard to beat a beautiful mantra and just what pop is all about can’t wait to see her perform with a mic headset like ulala in space channel 5 and all the best pop stars
Things i associate with her music: hugo comte shoots, the color blue more so baby blue, gold hoops, y2k aesthetic institute fb page, gen x softclub and adult contemporary, mdma, korean skincare
Honorable mentions: pinkpantheress, azealia banks for her versatility if she wanted to be a pop star she could be one venus is a good example, bree runway & tinashe
Even tho the pop industry isn’t all rainbows and sunshine and can be a dark industry from pimping out girls, cloning them to the toxic culture of stans it still somewhat makes me happy pop music is what helped me come to terms with transitioning hyperfemininity packaged in song form spoke to me through the years and ill forever be grateful about a genre i love that has given me opportunities that ive only dreamed of but my music taste goes beyond pop and appreciating a multitude of art forms is what makes me truly appreciate the genre im a rave kid at heart that’s why i love blending genres in my sets you never know what you’re going to get i always say you can enjoy ariana grande and aphex twin just vibe…. my last closing statement free britney bitch!