Music

Neoclassical Piano Renegade and Culture Creator BLKBOK Unveils His Sophomore Album ‘9’

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BLKBOK (pronounced ‘Black Bach’), the piano renegade hailing from Detroit’s West Side, presents his sophomore album ‘9’ today, available via icons+giants/downtown. This profound body of work showcases BLKBOK’s remarkable evolution as an artist, drawing inspirational compositions from his unique blend of classical piano training and a lifelong love for hip-hop culture to create his disruptive neoclassical sound.

Through rich instrumental storytelling and spoken word vignettes narrated by life coach Dr. Felicia Thomas, ‘9’ allows listeners to experience classical music infused with an inclusive Black perspective.

Over the past few years, BLKBOK spent extended amounts of time in Florida and Georgia visiting family and friends. Like many navigating a polarized America, he went through culture shock not being able to see eye-to-eye even with those he loves, and repeatedly witnessing the stark realities of racism, oppression and close-mindedness. While these low moments occupied his thoughts, BLKBOK found a life vest in elevated moments of Black Excellence, like the inspiringly resilient RowVaughn Wells, Wanda Jones and Gwen Knight, and Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas’ public apology to one another.

In a climate where civil liberties are under threat and there are repeated–even legislative–attempts to re-write and omit Black history, BLKBOK composed a collection that can not only be a catalyst for productive dialogue but can illuminate some uniquely Black stories.

With ‘9,’ BLKBOK sets the table for discussion, inviting listeners to explore his world, be inspired, and converse in a meaningful way that calls for positive change. The album’s title pays homage to The Little Rock Nine, a powerful symbol of courage and resilience in the face of
adversity that cannot be rewritten or ignored. BLKBOK traveled to Little Rock, where he met
with Elizabeth Eckford, one of the original Little Rock Nine, to hear firsthand stories and solidify
his belief in a more just way forward. He photographed the album cover outside Little Rock Central High School, where 66 years ago, history was made when the first Black students were integrated into an all-white high school during what seemed like America’s most hopeless and divided moment.

“When developing the concepts and compositions for ‘9,’ each piece is meant to be a
conversation starter–a prompt,” states BLKBOK. “We can only make changes if we engage in
conversations with each other, and in particular with those who don’t believe in the same things
or think the same way.” The album title is also a reference to the Angel Number 9, which symbolizes universal love and humanitarianism.

BLKBOK continues, “No one listens to piano music and thinks about the socio-economic or cultural background of the composer or performer; people hear music that touches them emotionally. But as more people discover my ‘why’ and my vision, I hope that I can tilt that social mirror just enough to shift perspectives in others to be open to seeing things differently. Even just the slightest shift may help bridge some of the big gaps in our world to create a greater understanding of each other, more human connection and ultimately more love.”

BLKBOK is the embodiment of diverse musical experiences, driven by a profound desire to tell
stories that resonate with culture and the present times. Growing up amidst the hip-hop culture of Detroit, he began learning classical piano at the tender age of four. He would spend his teenage years practicing the works of icons like Debussy, only to retreat to his room to immerse himself in the rhymes and rhythms of artists like Busta Rhymes. As an adult, he toured as a musical director and pianist for the biggest artists in the world including Rihanna, Demi Lovato, John Mayer, and Justin Timberlake, before crafting his signature neoclassical sound. His original compositions bridge classical music with genres like hip-hop, R&B, and jazz, creating work that defies conventional boundaries and making classical music accessible to a new generation, through fresh perspectives and unforgettable live experiences.

“Imagine me as a rapper, except I spit lyrics and tell my stories through my hands, with these notes,” BLKBOK explains. BLKBOK is currently captivating audiences across North America on his Mixtapes X Counterpoint Tour. Known for live piano performances that weave together storytelling, inclusive cultural insights, and thought-provoking sounds, BLKBOK has recently graced stages at MoMA’s Black Arts Council Benefit, The Atlantic Festival, and DC’s Juneteenth Freedom Festival. This fall, fans can catch him in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and many more cities.

Eachnight promises to provide a platform for every individual to embark on a personalized journey.

Stream Full Album below.

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