My Internet: Danyel Smith

The podcaster and author prefers the non-cynical and unironic.

Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, from Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci.🧩

Every Friday, we quiz a very cool “very online” person to get their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.

Today we welcome Danyel Smith, creator and host of The Ringer and Spotify’s Black Girl Songbook, which kicked off its second season late last month. Her next book, Shine Bright: A Personal History of Black Women in Pop, will be published by One World / Random House in February 2022. She also just profiled Natalia Bryant for the September cover of Teen Vogue.

Danyel likes media organizations that have big goals and appear to treat people like humans, indulges in fuchsia and Typorama on Instagram, and tweets because it’s the law. —Nick


What’s a recent meme or other post that cracked you up? 

Random person: “I love your hair!”

Little black girl, so happy: “Thank you! It’s an Afro!”

Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?

Happy me. My projects. The Husband. My family. Black women living life. Probably too much fuchsia and Typorama.

What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?

Women singing. Vintage interviews with musical geniuses. Anything that comes up if I search “30 minute full body stretch.”

Do you ever tweet?

Too much—yet somehow not enough.

Why do you tweet?

Isn’t it the law?

Who’s the coolest person who follows you?

My niece. And my nephew. And my baby cousins. They’re zoomers and have far more interesting things to do. 

Who’s someone more people should follow?

Too many to name. Just did a quick IG scroll and it looks like ACLU, blkcreatives, Zinn Education Project, Filipino Food Crawl, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Brown History, AfrocentricFilmsCollaborative, Dionne Warwick Archive, Oceans Nation, Strong Black Lead, @podcastsincolor, Well-Read Black Girl, and #cairnterriersofinstagram because I’m obsessed. 

Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?

Kelis because music, because food, because farming, because style, because low-key sense of humor. Vogue’s Edward Enninful because he is among the world’s greatest curators of culture.

A post shared by @kelis

Where do you tend to get your news?

Twitter + IG. I tend to follow media organizations that invest in a diverse group of professionals. I like the non-cynical and un-ironic. I am into organizations that have big goals, that appear to treat people like humans, and who own up to their missteps. 

What's your favorite non-social media app?

Camera+, Picsart, NBA. I had to unsubscribe from the New York Times Crossword—too addictive. Same for Subway Surfers. I should probably re-up with Headspace: love the bedtime stories.  

Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?

Bria Felicien’s The Black Sportswoman, Pariss Athena’s Black Tech Pipeline, Nick Quah’s Hot Pod [now hosted by Ashley Carman], Todd BurnsMusic Journalism Insider, Felicia Pride’s The Create Daily, John Stoehr’s Editorial Board, Dan Rather’s Steady. My husband Elliott Wilson’s occasional The Motto. And, as for my own HRDlist, I need to get back on it!

Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?

I listen when I can! Right now my absolute fave is Justin Tinsley’s The King of Crenshaw, an ESPN 30 For 30 pod about Nipsey Hussle. There’s also: All The Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Angela Yee’s Lip Service, It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, Rob Harvilla’s 60 Songs That Explain the ‘90s, Jemele Hill is Unbothered, Naked with Cari Champion, and Okay, Now Listen with Sylvia Obell and Scottie Beam. And of course Elliott Wilson and Brian Miller’s The Rap Radar Podcast

When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?

Are you kidding? I have whole boards. For very specific projects and situations.

Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?

It was Tumblr for me. In my mind it was all so free, and without second-guessing. I miss it daily. I was religious about posting and about experiencing. 

Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?

I have really good friends who text me voice notes. Which we are all pretending are not voicemails. I really do not love voicemails. 

What's your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?

The big “sun” that comes up when you search “bright.” 🔆

What's a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve streamed a lot lately?

I like my Black Girl Songbook playlist on shuffle. It’s almost—but not quite—all-girl. It’s the music of black women from blues to rock to gospel to classical to soul to rap and R&B. And its tangents. Album on deck a bunch is Drake’s newish Certified Lover Boy, and Angela Bofill’s 1979 Angel of the Night

If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?

This is clearly a trick question. 

What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?

Breaks, big-time. 

What's the worst thing about the internet in 2021?

The curtain being pulled back.

How about the best thing?

The curtain being pulled back.


Thanks Danyel! Stream Black Girl Songbook, preorder Shine Bright: A Personal History of Black Women in Pop, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. 🔆

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