Rising Baltimore singer addresses the politics of oppression through genre-bending songs

Last fall, Baltimore musician Joy Postell released a video for single “Consciousness,” in which she played the role of African-American icons like Angela Davis, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Celie Johnson from "The Color Purple." In a Lauryn Hill-evoking hybrid of R&B and rap, Postell sings, “I can smell it in the air like them dark bodies swinging from the poplar tree/ And I can feel it in my bones as I become everything they told me not to be,” then repeatedly asks, “Where's this consciousness you speak of?”

It's a powerful, political song from an up-and-coming artist who spent time in Los Angeles but moved back home to Baltimore in May of 2015, a month after the death of Freddie Gray, who died at the hands of the Baltimore PD. Soon after Gray's death, Postell released a live acoustic video for the song “Hands Up, Don't Shoot.” “I wrote the song with the intent to paint the picture of oppression against black people that has been perpetuated throughout American history,” Postell wrote alongside the video. “It's time for us to unite and extend a helping hand to our fellow brothers and sisters in need.”

Postell, whose debut EP, Diaspora, is forthcoming, will perform as part of The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 4, which will also feature Cleveland's Walker OG and local rappers OG Vern and Dom Deshawn. (Safe bet)