Photo by Gregory Kramer.
THE ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS:
Once upon a time in a galaxy not far away, there lived two kings. Each was the ruler of his own deliciously glorious planet. The first king, Manchildblack, was well known throughout the cosmos for his ethereal vocals, celestial sonics and earthy musical messages. The other king, Monstah Black, was a star in the solar system for his gravity defying performances, genderbending fashions and spacey disposition. One magical night, an inexplicable ultramagnetic pull forced the two planets to collide. A technicolored explosion occurred, turning night into day, with a feast of aural and visual delights. It was then that the universe was changed forever. Manchildblack and Monstah Black united and became The Illustrious Blacks.
With inspiration from artists like Prince, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Depeche Mode and George Clinton, The Illustrious Blacks have arrived with a mission to fuse futuristic funk, hypnotic house, space disco and synth-pop into pulsating positivity for the planet. The real life married couple are not only co-pilots on their artistic voyage, but are united in their fantastical journey through life.
In 2017, the duo The New York Times called Bed-Stuy’s “favorite creative couple,” released their highly anticipated debut EP, Neo Afro Futuristic Psychedelic Surrealistic Hippy, on Concierge Records. The EP featured the high energy single “Blast Off,” the seductive “Red Light,” the thought provoking “Delusions of Grandeur” and the anthemic “Black Like Jesus,” whose music video premiered on Billboard.com. In the same year, the dynamic duo found time to work on a remake of the 90s dance floor classic “Funk That!,” which spawned a popular music video.Subsequent singles followed: The joyous “Revolutionary Love” was released to major praise from Paper Magazine and Out.com. “The Void (Let the Music Set U Free)” is their latest dancefloor filler and one of the most popular songs performed in their electrifying live performances.
As the result of a soul-stirring DJ set on Facebook live for the Questlove’s music platform Okayplayer, The Illustrious Blacks garnered international fame and found themselves touring to Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe, Canada and being booked to perform in major music festivals such as Roskilde, Splore, Return to Rio and Garden Beats. Back in NYC, the globetrotters took their live shows to respected venues like Central Park Summerstage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The Shed, Joe’s Pub, Le Poisson Rouge, House of Yes, C’mon Everybody and performed opening sets for respected artists like Lalah Hathaway, Nakhane and Cupcakke. 2020 saw the release of their celebrated sophomore EP, Technegrocolor. Of their lead single from the EP, “Step Back,” Gaytimes raved, “The Illustrious Blacks have delivered one of the most unapologetically queer anthems of the year.” To follow up Technegrocolor, The IBs put out two synth-pop singles “Gravitational” and “Love Is Love Is Love” as well as provided guest vocals for a song by popular singer/songwriter Bright Light, Bright Light. By the end of 2020, The Illustrious Blacks were the subject of a VICE News piece, launched the YouTube program Hype Life w/The Illustrious Blacks, collaborated on a stunning visual clip for Phillips Auction/Gallery and put the final touches on a new single and music video for “Cloud 9” that was released in June of 2021.
Individually, Monstah Black and Manchildblack illuminate the galaxy with equal magnitude. As The Illustrious Blacks, they have combined their powers to save the world one beat at a time, and encourage all to LIVE THE HYPE LIFE!