These Black creatives dominated digital spaces in quarantine 2020
From Chloe x Halle to Hanifa Virtual Fashion Show, these creatives kept us entertained even on the darkest days
It was March 13, 2020, a Friday many of us will eerily remember for years to come. The United States officially went into quarantine as a preventive method against the coronavirus. The lockdown that was initially presented to us as a two-week stint continues nine months later, as many cities see spiked numbers post-holiday gatherings.
Nonetheless, life as we knew it no longer existed and everything became a bit uncertain. But even through the darkest times, people gathered around and turned to the arts. Whether it was film, music, or television, people turned to escapism as their coping mechanism.
And per usual, Black creatives were at the forefront of the movement. Here’s a list of our favorite Black creatives who dominated digital spaces through quarantine.
What started as two super producers going through their catalogs, has now become a cultural experience. Producers Swizz Beats and Timbaland created the Verzuz battle series and the premise is simple. A pair of singers and/or songwriters (or producers) face off on Instagram live and compete through their catalog of songs. Each battle goes 20 rounds and it’s up to the fans to decide who is ultimately the winner.
Thanks to Timbo and Swizzy, people were able to experience somewhat of a concert experience from the comfort of their living rooms for free. And the beauty of it all was that they had a little something for everyone; Gladys Knight vs Patti LaBelle, Gucci Mane vs. Young Jeezy, Babyface vs. Teddy Riley (parts 1 & 2), Beenie Mane vs. Bounty Killer, and Brandy vs. Monica, to name a few.
Verzuz was consistently bringing in millions of listeners per battle which ultimately landed them a partnership with Apple Music. As we await the date for season two’s premiere, relive your favorite battles here.
HANIFA VIRTUAL FASHION SHOW
Anifa Mvuemba, founder of fashion label Hanifa, was looking forward to holding her first show during the 2020 New York Fashion Week until quarantine suddenly stopped everything. Determined to showcase her beautiful work, Muvuemba turned to technology and officially changed the fashion game.
According to Fast Company, the virtual fashion show exhibited each garment in 3D against a black backdrop, as if worn by invisible models strutting down a catwalk. Tens of thousands of Hanifa’s followers tuned in.
Hanifa was founded in 2012 and has been seen on celebrities such as Lizzo, Kelly Rowland, and Kylie Jenner. Anifa Mvuemba, a native of DC, keeps black women in mind when she designs looks for sizes 0 to 20. “I think it’s hard for many black designers to make it in the system,” she says. “To make it, you have to know the right people and be in the right places. I decided to just do things my own way.”
CHLOE X HALLE
Chloe and Halle Bailey has been eating up the girls all 2020 and has yet to leave a crumb behind. The ATL-bred sisters have been on the scene for some years now, but they elevated to new heights with the release of their summer hit, “Do It.'” The song sparked the #DoItChallenge on TikTok and a summer filled with nonstop performances.
Their second album, Ungodly Hour, was released in June, and the queens of the at-home performance, gave us looks, vocals, choreography, and feels straight from their tennis court for all quarantine. The performances included the People’s Choice Awards, VMAs, BET Awards, GLAAD Awards and YouTube Original’s Dear Class of 2020, and many more.
Earlier this month, we reported that Beyoncé presented her protégés with the Billboard Rising Star Award and her speech proved that she (and the rest of the world) were on the same page when it came to enjoying every second of watching these girls transform from teens into powerhouses.
Earlier this month, Chloe x Halle took their talents to NPR‘s Tiny Desk Concert where their performance has already racked up over 1.2 million views. We can’t wait to see what they do in 2021. Until then, check out the edge snatching performance below.
Like most live entertainers, DJ D-Nice soon saw his jobs disappear when concert halls, nightclubs, and social gatherings suffered from the global shutdown. D-Nice found himself stuck inside and wanted to keep himself occupied.
D-Nice turned to Instagram Live to share his favorite songs and stories from his years in the industry including his start with the hip-hop group, Boogie Down Productions. Thus, “Club Quarantine” was born. The digital dance party brought in celebs like Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and even politicals like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who were on their Democratic presidential campaign.
If you’re still looking for NYE plans, you can catch Dj D-Nice ‘no other place in the world’ aka club quarantine. According to Instagram, he’ll start spinning at 10 pm ET/ 7pm PT and you can tune in on Instagram Live @DNice or YouTube DNICE.
ZOOM WHERE IT HAPPENS
What started as a collaboration between Color for Change and Zoom, Zoom Where It Happens started as an evening where actors/actresses got together to take a look back at some of our beloved such as the “Golden Girls.” Hosted by Lena Waithe and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the classic was reimagined with an all-black cast featuring Alfre Woodard, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sanaa Lathan, and Regina King.
What originally started as a way to get people to register to vote has lead to table reads and reunions of some of our favorite televised productions. Of course, there couldn’t be an all-Black production of Golden Girls without Aaron Scott’s gospel-infused rendition of the classic theme song. Watch him lead the Zoom opening while the cast danced along.
GIRLS WITH GUITARS
During each live session, H.E.R. along with her vast array of guitars would perform songs from her catalog as well as covers and take fan requests on Instagram Live. The performance and conversation series, slowly transformed into a space for female guitarists–famous and not– to engage in a vibe about music and life.
Episode One kicked off back in April and it featured singers Tori Kelly, Umi, and Alessia Cara. So far, there have been seven episodes and other guests include Lianne La Havas, Kiana Lede, Sheryl Crow, and Willow Smith. You can watch all the episodes on the #GirlswithGuitars YouTube playlist here.
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