Topaz Jones is more than a talented hip-hop artist—he’s well on his way to becoming an auteur. Along with his 2021 album Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma, he co-directed a short film of the same name which won a Sundance Award and got a wide release via The New York Times. Inspired by the Black ABCs flashcards 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, artistry and friendships. In Topaz Jones’ world, C is for code switching and V is for valuable. It’s perfect for the modern-day, TikTok-addled attention span, but that doesn’t mean it lacks substance or soul. If anything, it proves that Jones’ ingenuity deserves a lot more recognition.
Opening for Moor Mother and Irreversible Entanglements
The New Parish, Oakland
Before the term “hyperpop” entered mainstream vocabulary, Tyler Holmes was singing and rapping over their self-produced chaotic, glitchy beats and industrial noise. But over the past couple of years, the artist has leaned into their singer-songwriter side. Their 2021 album, Nightmare in Paradise, gives space for processing trauma with stripped-down tracks that combine gorgeous acoustic guitars, cellos and woodwinds, delicate singing and experimental electronics. Holmes wrote it in the aftermath of caring for a friend who was shot and survived a random attack while they were together on tour in Puerto Rico. Ever the one to make beauty from tragedy, Holmes makes space for our collective grief.
With Spiritual Cramp and Provoker
DNA Lounge, San Francisco
There’s something special about the way Kris Esfandiari’s droning voice can lull you into a peaceful daydream one minute and break you open with rage and catharsis the next. The frontwoman of the Oakland doom metal outfit King Woman is one of the most compelling artists of her genre. Her earlier work was rooted in processing a religious upbringing she’s described as “cult”-like, and on King Woman’s 2021 album, Celestial Blues, she leans on Biblical archetypes to create a gothic drama of her own design. Esfandiari’s involvement with scenes and creative communities outside of metal means that her work isn’t just relegated to one niche. She last performed at Bottom of the Hill at Noise Pop 2019 with her other project, Miserable, and with King Woman, she’s taking the helm of a much larger stage at DNA Lounge.
The New Parish, Oakland
In some circles, jazz and hip-hop are in constant dialogue, and Chicago drummer, producer and “beat scientist” Makaya McCraven is one of the conduits of that creative conversation. McCraven looks into the past and future to create new possibilities: just look at his last album, Deciphering the Message, where—like a true crate digger in the tradition of J Dilla—he mines the legendary Blue Note Records catalog for interesting sounds that came out before the 1960s, blending them with modern recordings by top-tier instrumentalists in his band and blurring the lines of time and space in the process.
Joe Henderson Lab at SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco
Valerie Troutt’s big, gorgeous voice and high-energy house beats come together with divine synergy: together they can move your body and your mind towards a brief moment of spiritual enlightenment on the dance floor. The Oakland singer brings gospel-trained skill to the microphone, and she uses her voice with powerful intention. In addition to self-producing and writing her music, she’s a longtime community activist who uses music a source of healing and strength, particularly for Black women.
With Lil Mariko and Death Tour