What happens when you combine the most relevant topics in Black culture, a Spotify playlist with over 600,000 followers, and two hosts who can find humor in just about anything? You get Who We Be TALKS_—the podcast partner to the UK’s biggest rap, grime, R&B, and Afrobeat playlist, Who We Be. The show, which has been running since 2018, recently launched its latest season with two exciting new hosts: Harry Pinero and Henrie.
The weekly podcast celebrates Black music and culture by offering insights directly from the people who help shape it. The episodes, which are recorded on Mondays and drop the next day, are centered around the hot topics of the moment. Each week, the duo is joined by a special guest, and together they share their unique perspectives on the most pressing issues in Black music and culture today.
We caught up with Harry and Henrie to talk about how they’re using their platform to amplify Black voices and why they choose to approach difficult topics with humor.
Who We Be TALKS_ goes hand in hand with the Who We Be playlist. Why is it not enough to just listen to the music? Why do we need both the playlist and the podcast in tandem?
Henrie: We can’t talk about Black music without talking about Black culture: They go hand in hand. It’s something that I think we all talk about without even thinking about.
Harry: The artists create music, but they all have a story. I think the podcast gives artists room to be themselves without being filtered. Some of the artists that have come on the show, Tion Wayne and Big Zuu for example, probably spoke more in-depth than they ever have because our platform is set up for them to do that.
Why do you think it’s important to have a playlist like Who We Be that combines music from Black creators across genres including rap, grime, R&B, and Afrobeat?
Harry: I think for a long time a lot of the Black genres have been umbrellaed under one category: urban. But it’s more than just that. The Who We Be playlist highlights dance, soul, Afrobeat, rap, trap music individually. It puts everything in one place where people can listen to so many different genres.
How have you switched up Who We Be TALKS_ for the new season?
Henrie: We’re now making it more about culture—it’s not just about music and the artist. When we talk to artists, yes, we talk about their latest project or song, but we get their take on what’s happening right now as well. When we had Tion Wayne in, he talked about Black Lives Matter. I think that is incredible to see something like that because you now get a different script of the artist.
How else are you addressing the Black Lives Matter movement and tying together current events and music?
Henrie: If you’re interested in the music, then of course you’re going to be interested in what’s happening with Black Lives Matter, because the music is reflective of Black lives.
Harry: When you strip away the job titles of artists or creatives, at the end of the day, these are Black people who are dealing with racial injustice. These are real emotions that they’re feeling. I think that anyone that comes on the show, White or Black, will want to talk about these things, because it’s affecting all of us. What we, and Spotify, are trying to accomplish here is celebrating our culture and saying that we are stronger together than we are against each other.
What do you think is comedy’s role in pushing some of these really important, serious conversations?
Henrie: Comedy plays an important role because even though life is serious, I don’t take life too seriously. I think that finding the lighthearted factor in these times is something that Black people just do really well.
Harry: I agree. I watched Dave Chappelle’s special “8:46,” which was very deep but also very funny. I respect Dave Chappelle because he’s got that balance where he can touch on very technical issues while still finding the humor.
What are you hoping to bring to Who We Be TALKS_ that you’ve learned from your other work?
Henrie: I do quite a few things at the moment, including No Signal Radio, which recently announced a partnership with Spotify. That show has taught me a lot about myself. Because it’s Black radio, I don’t have to filter what I say or who I am. But at the same time, I don’t necessarily have to have an opinion there. On Who We Be TALKS_, it’s a part of the show. We need to have an opinion, and everybody gets to share theirs whether or not we agree with each other.
Harry: I started my career on social media talking about real-life issues in the funniest way possible. Then I began hosting events, including one for Spotify. After I did the BET Awards and the BRIT Awards, I started to become more interested in music professionally. Now when I sit down and I talk to people in the music industry, it’s helping me broaden my understanding of the scene. I’m still learning every day.
What do you hope listeners will take away from the show?
Henrie: It’s not really meant to be rigid conversations. It’s meant to be how you would just chat with your friends if you went to their house. I want the audience to imagine us as their friends. See it as being an inclusive conversation as opposed to just an interview.
Harry: I want people to learn from these episodes. I want people to be inspired, to want to chase their dreams, to listen to music, and for artists to get streams. But I also want people to know that just because it’s Black culture doesn’t mean it’s just for Black people. There are a lot of different cultures within Black culture, and I hope this show is a place where anyone who’s interested in any of its many aspects can go to listen to their favorite artist, discover, and learn new things.
Who We Be TALKS_ is available to stream exclusively on Spotify. Check out the first episode of the latest season, featuring rapper Tion Wayne, below.