Uplifting and Empowering Music for Black Youth
[Oakland, CA. March, 2022] Kingmakers of Oakland (KOO), an organization dedicated to improving life and learning outcomes for Black students; today is releasing their third studio album: Black Joy. As artists, educators, and community members, KOO focuses on creating “movement music”, rooted in our unapologetic values to: uplift youth voice, dismantle systemic oppression, and cultivate art that highlights the innate brilliance and beauty of Black people.
Though mass protests for Black Lives have waned and the media has mostly moved on; Black communities continue to be impacted by racial and systemic injustice. Considering KOO’s “Love-Centered” engagement of Black youth and cultivation of the Oakland community, a number of Oakland-based musicians enthusiastically collaborated on Black Joy. Basi, a KOO staff member, was co-producer and lead artist on Black Joy. He recruited and organized the team of musicians for the album.
KOO came to a crucial realization: “We often focus too much on Black pain and death. We must also spend time and energy exploring Black Joy.” With songs like “Alpine”, “Diamond”, and “All Love”, Black Joy is an uplifting representation of the beauty that grows from our struggle.
Black Joy features the Oakland School for the Arts Choir directed by Cava Menzies, plus local rappers and singers such as Amari, Basi, B. Deveaux, 42k Lil, and many more. The dynamic production of Black Joy was done by Drew Banga and Kev Choice while the album art was created by Olubori. KOO is also working globally. They have recently partnered with South African animation company www.cyzo.co.za/ to turn Black Joy into four animated videos to be released summer 2022.
In 2020, after finishing our docuseries, Kings in the Making, we released a companion album of the same name, Kings in the Making; which laid down the context and history of our organization, explored the many facets of the Black experience, and continued to reinforce the pursuit of liberation and empowerment through self knowledge and community. The eleven-track album, which includes songs such as “Institutional Racism,” “Public Criticism,” “Community,” and “Impact,” remind listeners that we must heal and cultivate our roots before we can truly grow.
As the pandemic continued to rage on, law enforcement all over the country continued to wage war on Black life with near impunity. As much of the world was in quarantine, KOO took a proactive stance to elevate youth voice and began working on their second album, an EP, Revolution Remix.
Cava Menzies, musician, pianist and KOO’s Managing Creative Director describes the EP as a “powerful platform for Black youth to process their feelings, trauma and hurt surrounding the very painful public murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor during the summer of 2020”.
Established in 2018 to support Black boys in Oakland, San Francisco, Antioch and Seattle School Districts; KOO now serves nearly 1,000 students and continues to grow nationally. KOO has remained committed to offering a liberatory and culturally-relevant curriculum within schools, as well as providing Black Youth with powerful outlets for music and media expression that represent and honor the complexities of their experiences.
Stream Black Joy and all our music projects on all platforms today. Equip and empower yourself, your family and your community with music that feeds your soul.
There is no better time than now to celebrate Black Joy!
Basi – @basi.sts
Amari – @itsjust_a_m_a_r_i
Kahlil – @42k.lil
Alonzo – @antihero510
Jada Imani – @jadaimani510
Sin Q – @sin_q
Victor – @freegamevic
Amen – @_amenauset
Ian Kelly – @firstnameian
Larrenwong – @larrenwong
Sequoia – @sequoiia_
Ajai Kasim – @twisted_cant_fix_it_
B Deveux – @thebde.veaux
Kev Choice – @kevchoice
Drew Banga – @drewwwbanga
Cava Menzies – @cavamenzie