How Ebro Darden put his stamp on Black music—and Apple Music

When Apple Music named Ebro Darden as its first head of hip-hop and R&B in 2019, Darden, who’s additionally the cohost of Sizzling 97’s Ebro within the Morning, one of many highest-rated hip-hop and R&B morning radio reveals in america, noticed it as extra than simply a possibility to go international. It was an opportunity, he says, to broaden his mission “to platform the opposite genres the place Black artists don’t get to shine.”

Final 12 months he commissioned Black artists throughout genres from nation to gospel to create authentic music for an Apple Music compilation celebrating Juneteenth. He’s additionally been capable of amplify worldwide Black artists who don’t but have a powerful presence stateside. Final 12 months, Darden toured South Africa with a digital camera crew to highlight Sjava and Shane Eagle, amongst others, for a particular episode of his present Rap Life that was featured throughout Apple Music’s platforms and YouTube. And in June 2020, Darden selected Nigerian rapper Rema for Apple Music’s month-to-month rising artist showcase Up Subsequent. By showcasing African music worldwide, Darden has helped Apple Music broaden on the continent: The service launched in 25 African nations final 12 months, and international performs of African music genres elevated greater than 230% in comparison with 2019.

Quick Firm: You’re employed exhausting to floor lesser-known artists for the U.S. market. How do you see this effort as affecting the business as an entire?

Ebro Darden: For me, it’s about us with the ability to see us, hear our music, rejoice our music. Black music is our pure useful resource. No one could make our music like us. No one feels like us. And no person’s had our expertise. We’ve received to see ourselves globally and perceive how a lot worth we now have.

What’s it like figuring out that Apple created this place only for you? Is there further strain?

It’s our accountability to guarantee that Black music is cared for on this digital house. Nearly every bit of well-liked music we all know immediately got here alongside due to Black individuals. While you consider home music, rock and roll, blues, and nation, you don’t consider our face [even though you should]. A part of caring for Black music is ensuring that we deal with that legacy and guarantee that artists who’re Black and who need to make that music know that there’s an area for them.

Final 12 months, you tailored your present Rap Life into filmed occasions at Howard College and Clark Atlanta College. Why did you translate your programming for academia?

The scholastic world and the music world must be nearer. A variety of these artists, whereas they might haven’t gone the standard route of beginning a enterprise, in the end they find yourself creating manufacturers, having advertising and marketing concepts, turning into multimillion-dollar enterprise house owners. The extra we will embrace these guys who’ve accomplished it the unorthodox manner and [teach their stories] to the individuals going the extra conventional route, the higher off our communities will likely be.

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