Part II – more music from black artists and organizing around social justice and racial quality, of course on Bandcamp. These are selections that really moved me today; I hope some do the same for you.
Like all abuses of power, fear of blackness suppresses great music. Here are more answers to that.
Let’s start in the Bronx with the dynamic, perfect mania of Kush Jones. The opening track sort of says it all about … something. (No further comment.)
Lotic is pure electricity; I feel grateful to have been in the same room a couple of times when she’s live. Here is a production that can melt your face off even through headphones; absolutely essential single for me.
Lamin Fofana is the kind of full-fleshed artist we need right now – an attuned and articulate writer and producer, both. And this album out today is an opus, something to unfold over time and repeated listenings, singing some evocative mysteries of whiteness, its attainment, and perhaps eventually, its timely demise.
High in the tower, where I sit above the loud complaining of the human sea, I know many souls that toss and whirl and pass, but none there are that intrigue me more than the Souls of White Folk.
Of them I am singularly clairvoyant. I see in and through them. I view them from unusual points of vantage. Not as a foreigner do I come, for I am native, not foreign, bone of their thought and flesh of their language. Mine is not the knowledge of the traveler or the colonial composite of dear memories, words and wonder. Nor yet is my knowledge that which servants have of masters, or mass of class, or capitalist of artisan. Rather I see these souls undressed and from the back and side. I see the working of their entrails. I know their thoughts and they know that I know. This knowledge makes them now embarrassed, now furious. They deny my right to live and be and call me misbirth! My word is to them mere bitterness and my soul, pessimism. And yet as they preach and strut and shout and threaten, crouching as they clutch at rags of facts and fancies to hide their nakedness, they go twisting, flying by my tired eyes and I see them ever stripped,—ugly, human.
The discovery of personal whiteness among the world’s peoples is a very modern thing,—a nineteenth and twentieth century matter, indeed. The ancient world would have laughed at such a distinction. The Middle Age regarded skin color with mild curiosity; and even up into the eighteenth century we were hammering our national manikins into one, great, Universal Man, with fine frenzy which ignored color and race even more than birth. Today we have changed all that, and the world in a sudden, emotional conversion has discovered that it is white and by that token, wonderful!
This assumption that of all the hues of God whiteness alone is inherently and obviously better than brownness or tan leads to curious acts; even the sweeter souls of the dominant world as they discourse with me on weather, weal, and woe are continually playing above their actual words an obligato of tune and tone, saying:
“My poor, un-white thing! Weep not nor rage. I know, too well, that the curse of God lies heavy on you. Why? That is not for me to say, but be brave! Do your work in your lowly sphere, praying the good Lord that into heaven above, where all is love, you may, one day, be born—white!”
I do not laugh. I am quite straight-faced as I ask soberly:
“But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?” Then always, somehow, some way, silently but clearly, I am given to understand that whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!
— W.E.B. Du Bois, Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil (1920)
Khalil Anthony is making music in the future – well, both figuratively, and literally in that this remix comp is coming on Tuesday. (Please, tell us what it’s like? Actually, not sure I want that answered.) Sheffield’s Black Beacon Sound wrote such a nice text that I’m just going to copy-paste the whole thing:
A nine-track remix album curated by the outstanding Khalil Anthony, remixed by ten effervescent musicians and producers; traversing New York, Amsterdam, Manchester, Paris, Chicago, Johannesburg, Oakland, Accra and Sheffield, presented by Urban Folk Music & Black Beacon Sound.
As a small independent electronic label, we rest firmly on the shoulders of giants. Those giants are geniuses. And those geniuses are black. Without them, there’d be no hip-hop, no house, no funk, no techno. In fact, the music we love would be nothing without the genius of black people, so we owe them more than we could ever hope to repay.
Our latest release is a prime example of this. ‘SCARAB’ features a core of amazing black artists remixing the songs of an incredible black polymath, Khalil Anthony. And yet it is these people who will be discriminated against purely because of their skin colour. They will be passed over for opportunities just because they’re black. They will be treated with fear and suspicion just because they’re black. They will be arrested, tasered and, in the case of America, shot and even choked to death just because they’re black. This is a global crisis as deadly as any pandemic and if this doesn’t make you sad and angry, then it should.
We realise there’s not much we can do, but we want to be better allies, so we’re starting with this latest release. 100% of all sales from Bandcamp will be split and donated to two different charitable organisations, Black Lives Matter and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. We know it’s not much, but remaining inactive on this isn’t an option. Silence is compliance. It’s time to radicalise, resist and revolt.
But you also shouldn’t miss this crisp, compact, forward-thinking EP from March:
And he makes films. Various inventions can be found but – this one for me is the one that’s poetry (visually as well as … the words).
Why can’t I love you when you are here?
Khalil Anthony Peebles presentation at the James Baldwin Conference at the American University of Paris. “A Language To Dwell In.” This beautifully crafted film articulates Anthony’s relationship with James Baldwin’s ‘Giovanni’s Room in 8 phases, consciously beginning with a “PRINCE ROGERS NELSON” mantra said 7 times, under a purple hue. “Implications” is a well mastered analysis of how Khalil’s understanding of his own sexuality is and is not defined by the main characters, David and Giovanni, in Baldwin’s novel. “Implications” is an interdisciplinary masterpiece, as Anthony weaves together a succinct and lovely narrative of his innate similarities between himself and the main characters of “Giovanni’s Room,’ and shares his own limitations in relationship to our unique journeys into a queer identity. A Black Boy Queer Identity is a construct, creation made in congruency with the highest vibration of self. Within this commitment to self identify and “represent” we Black Queer Boys dance within a particular phrase like a Baldwin, or a Rogers Nelson. This film presents a space to gather, shake, dance, cry, and testify…. Are you #teamdavid or #teamgiovanni #giovannisroom #jamesbaldwin #khalilanthonypeebles
There’s an interview, too:
And in other news…
New York Haunted, the label project from Drvg Cvltvre, is here again with an on-point, on-target benefit comp with all the forceful anarchist clarity we need right now.
Moodyman has something just unspeakably beautiful – in cold, dark times, this will make you feel some love even if you’re self-isolating. Set that purse down, baby and … honestly, buy this. Also, “take a shower.” (Sorry, still on the self-isolating lifestyle.) Detroit is still working, apparently.
It’s great to see artists in Glasgow working on an ongoing basis on racial equality and strategy. And it’s equally fine to feel your ass actually move around to this utterly wonderful acid. Even when you say “oh, no, not another acid track,” you get this and say “wait, actually, second thought, yes.” Not just an asinine random pattern slammed against a bunch of over-compressed chaos. Ass. Ass in movement.
CRER is a Scottish strategic racial equality charity, based in Glasgow. They are focused on working to eliminate racial discrimination and harassment and promote racial justice across Scotland. Over the years CRER has had a key role in advocating, campaigning, and influencing developments to promote racial equality. They have been effective in responding to a broad range of interests needed to make an impact upon deep rooted issues and respond to the needs of communities.
Warning – I am about to go decidedly less family-friendly again, like, lyrically. (hey, you know, in case people are at home with kids and on speakers…)
But honestly, there have been moments for many people in these past days when I have a feeling this was exactly the message you need. From my friend Femanyst (the artist on occasion known as Lady Blacktronika), it’s raunchy and – perfect, really:
I’ll let you personalize that greeting in the fashion and for the recipient that suits your present condition.
One more – an essential, achingly beautiful hip hop album is going the extra mile, taking its title track literally.
You know I have to say, it’s great to go to Bandcamp and be excited about downloading music again. Not because you’re going to stick it on a USB stick and DJ and show off to a crowd. It’s like those days when you spent money to fill your iPod. You do it for you – because your soul is hungry.