Written by Ndjha Ka |Feature image by Zara Julius
This fruit of the week features two black queer womxn; as Djs they are interested in, and working on, using music as a political tool. This, while rooting the experience of the music in the feel and language that reveals itself when music is given space to breath by respecting its cultural and social setting.
A conversation featuring bell hooks and Cornel West introduced me to Lynnée Denise, a Dj scholar interested in creating sensory experiences rooted in cultural histories of marginalized people. That led me to this mix, Soulful Critical Thought: bell hooks and the making of a DJ Scholar. A revelation! It is exciting to see how music can be used in relation to theory. This mix is framed in the politics of race, class, and gender, where hooks’s voice comes in and out of the mix, her words in conversation with and dancing alongside the music. From this, we are able to feel our way through how her words take from, give to, live with and alongside the music emanating from within the dynamic culture about whom the politics discussed are centered.
This vinyl mix, A Copper & Clay Multiverse, by Zara Julius who is a ‘multidisciplinary visual storyteller and music collector’, recorded for Mushroom Hour, is where the good stuff is at! It is a journey and a story, it allows us to live inside of, through and faraway from worlds that resemble and challenge one another, at once similar and different. Using the continuous medium of sound to travel in between and through these worlds, the global south and the African diaspora shines through as it is expressed through a sonic landscape. In this mix, Julius moves us through places, space and time (see Matri-Archi’s article on Afro-Futurism).
I now ask the reader to sit with me. Let us go on a journey together? Is it possible for us to situate ourselves together, collectively, within the same continuous image?
What does the imagination begin to mean within a collective landscape when we decide to take ourselves to a place a space and a time, individually, through the shared act of listening?
I want you all to please take your minds
Out of this musical contraption
And put your minds into any goddamn church
Any goddamn mosque
Any goddamn Celestial
Including Seraphoom and Cheruboom
(Fela Kuti, Shuffering and Shmiling)
And it is into those places we go – where we open ourselves, in order to feel what it is being communicated, all while we are existing within the drumbeat, the hi-hat, the chanting, the reliable bass guitar. Do you see? We are in that place, and the persistence of the music makes the image continuous. And so our minds remain there, fixed and fluid. Thinking and feeling.
This is the language being spoken, being transmitted, being spoken. Sit with me. Listen. Let us go on a journey together. Is it possible?
We now have to carry our minds
Out of those goddamn places
Back into this musical contraption
Right opposite you
Now we are back here
(Fela Kuti, Shuffering and Shmiling)
DJ, please play us the tunes.
And if this DJ is queer?
And if this DJ is African?
And if this DJ is a womxn?
If this DJ does not live in the constitution of gender as an obvious either and or? — That division between what it is to be, and feel as part of the distinction of man and woman?
And when the DJ brings their politics into the places they take us?
Se ha swivona na? 2 Now are we in the act of seeing? Of understanding, and overstanding? 3 There is a language being spoken, a meaning being transmitted. A place we are taken. Listen. Sit with me. Let us go on a journey together. Is it possible?
- The title ‘Moving through places, space and time’ is taken from the song Travellin’ Man by Dj Honda ft. Mos Def (now known as Yasiin Bey)
- Meaning; Now do we see?
- Rastafarai, used to denote communication between individuals where the speaker and listener (receiver), equal to one another, are necessarily above the idea itself (created by a person) being communicated just as God is necessarily superior as creator in context of the belief system.
- Denise, Lynnée. 2014. Soulful Critical Thought: bell hooks and the making of a DJ Scholar [Mix]. Available: http://www.djlynneedenise.com/dj-scholarship-bell-hooks/
- DJ Honda [prod.] ft. Bey, Yasiin. 1999. Travellin’ Man
- hooks, b & West, C. A Public Dialogue Between bell hooks and Cornel West [VideoFile]. Available: http://www.youtube.comwathc?v=_LL0k6_pPKw
- Julius, Zara. 2017. A Copper & Clay Multiverse [Mix]. Available: http://www.mushroomhour.com/choicepickings/zara-julius-a-copper-clay-multiverse/
- Kuti, Fela, 1978. Shuffering and Shmiling (Vocal). Album: Shuffering and Shmiling, Phonogram Inc.
- Bowman, Manzel. Intrepid [Print]. Available: https://society6.com/manzelbowman