6 artists you can’t miss at Noise Pop 2022

Topaz Jones is more than a talented hip-hop artist, he’s on his way to becoming an author. With his album 2021 Don’t tell your mamahe co-directed a short film of the same name which won a Sundance Award and achieved wide release via The New York Times. Inspired by Black ABCs flashcards that two teachers developed in Chicago in the 70s, the film uses the alphabet as a storytelling device that stitches together vignettes about black family life, educational pursuits, activism, art and friendships. In the world of Topaz Jones, C is for code change and V is for value. It’s perfect for modern TikTok-related attention spans, but that doesn’t mean it lacks substance or soul. On the contrary, it proves that Jones’ ingenuity deserves much more recognition.

Opening for the Moorish Mother and the Irreversible Entanglements
The New Parish, Oakland
February 23

Before the term “hyperpop” entered common vocabulary, Tyler Holmes sang and rapped over his self-produced chaotic, glitchy beats and industrial noise. But over the past two years, the artist has leaned into his singer-songwriter side. Their 2021 album, nightmare in paradise, offers a space to process trauma with stripped-down tracks that combine beautiful acoustic guitars, cellos and woodwinds, delicate vocals and experimental electronics. Holmes wrote it after caring for a friend who was shot and survived a random attack while they were touring Puerto Rico together. Always the one who makes beauty out of tragedy, Holmes makes room for our collective grief.

With spiritual and provocative cramp
DNA Lounge, San Francisco
February 25

There’s something special about the way Kris Esfandiari’s buzzing voice can lull you into peaceful reverie one minute and open you up with rage and catharsis the next. The lead singer of Oakland doom metal band King Woman is one of the most compelling performers of her genre. Her earlier work was rooted in dealing with a religious upbringing which she described as “bigoted”, and on King Woman’s 2021 album, Heavenly Blues, she draws on biblical archetypes to create a gothic drama of her own design. Esfandiari’s involvement in creative scenes and communities outside of metal means his work isn’t just relegated to a niche. She last performed at Bottom of the Hill at Noise Pop 2019 with her other project, Miserable, and with King Woman she takes the lead on a much bigger stage at DNA Lounge.

With Cheflee
The New Parish, Oakland
February 25

In some circles, jazz and hip-hop are in constant dialogue, and Chicago drummer, producer and beat scientist Makaya McCraven is one of the vehicles for this creative conversation. McCraven looks to the past and the future to create new possibilities: just look at his latest album, Decrypt the messagewhere, like a true crate digger in the tradition of J Dilla, he pulls interesting sounds released before the 1960s from the legendary Blue Note Records catalog, mixing them with modern recordings by top instrumentalists in his band and blurring the lines of time and space in the process.

Joe Henderson Lab at SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco
February 25

Valerie Troutt’s big, beautiful voice and high-energy house beats unite in divine synergy: together they can move your body and mind to a brief moment of spiritual enlightenment on the dance floor. The Oakland singer brings gospel-trained skills to the microphone and uses her voice with powerful intent. In addition to self-producing and writing her music, she is a lifelong community activist who uses music as a source of healing and strength, especially for black women.

With Lil Mariko and Death Tour
august room
February 25

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