For generations, New York City has been considered the heart of the American music industry. In the early 20th century, jazz musicians from far and wide would travel to New York for lucrative shows, helping to popularize the city’s famed nickname, “The Big Apple” — as smaller city gigs alternatively paid “little apples.” At that time, the West 28th Street block dubbed Tin Pan Alley was a center for music publishing, where songwriters wrote many of the hits we still celebrate. An artistic hotbed, New York continues to serve as an epicenter for musical innovation to this day.
From Harlem jazz clubs to the Greenwich Village folk scene and East Village punk venues to hip-hop’s South Bronx birthplace, New York City has always been a breeding ground for some of the world’s most culturally impactful talent. Our first Postcards playlist includes contributions by a diverse mix of this generation’s artists who reside in the Empire State and are known to push creative boundaries.
Representing the borough of Brooklyn, home to at least half of the talent featured on our list: five-piece genre-transcending group Phony Ppl, a New York City nightlife staple with their own weekly residency at the iconic Blue Note Jazz Club; the ever funky and soulful Carroll Gardens native Gabriel Garzón-Montano; with roots in Glen Head, Long Island, rock band Sunflower Bean; by way of Cleveland, singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Cautious Clay; as well as D.C. transplants Oddisee and Nick Hakim.
Though he now lives in Brooklyn, we’ve also highlighted music by Upper West Side emcee Wiki as well as his RATKING group mate Sporting Life — who manage to progressively pay homage to the golden age of East Coast hip-hop, evoking the spirit of pre-gentrified New York City, but without sounding dated. Another Manhattanite, hailing from Harlem, bilingual rapper and singer Melii is featured too.
Though raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, singer and songwriter Emily King recently moved to greener pastures in the Catskill Mountains. The following week, she wrote her acclaimed 2019 album Scenery's first single, “Remind Me” — a celebration of new beginnings. Also representing Upstate, Yoke Lore’s signature brand of indie pop is highlighted as well.
Listen to our postcard from New York and stay tuned for future Postcards, featuring Downtown talent from cities including Sydney, Paris, Tokyo, Amsterdam, London, Nashville, Los Angeles, and beyond.
Downtown Postcards is a new content series launched as part of our Songwriters Across Borders initiative to foster global collaboration between Downtown songwriters, artists, and producers from around the world and highlight their work.