Tag Archives: art

The Music & Metaphysics of Sun Ra

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Sun Ra, the “godfather” of Afrofuturism in music and pioneer of the genre “free jazz,” is in a league of his own. His large body of creative work and personal style speaks directly to the souls of Black folks everywhere, seeking to use art as a platform for Black liberation. With the help of his Intergalactic Myth-Science Solar “Arkestra” (see: band), Sun Ra used free jazz, old Egyptian symbols, and “far out” ideologies concerning the state of Black identity in his 1974 film “Space Is The Place,” which is a total embodiment of what Afrofuturism is all about. Through his eccentric costumes, Afrocentric radical thought, and almost incompressible “transmolecular” sounds, Sun Ra takes his followers on a journey of “imagining possible futures through a Black cultural lens.” (Ytasha Womack)

In the film “Space Is The Place,” what first catches the eye of viewers is Sun Ra’s stand-out appearance. This alone speaks volumes for the energy this man brings through his artistry. By looking at him dressed as the Ancient Egyptian god Ra, you’re immediately taken back to a time when Black ruled the world. Sun Ra’s alternate universal appearance brings the past and possible futures to the present in an attempt to spark both memory and possibilities into the mind of Blacks here on Earth. The film begins with Sun Ra descending from space in spaceship which unifies with the yellow cape and Sun crown worn atop his head. At first glance this is both shocking and exciting for the viewer. His style, in my own words, can be best described as ancient Egyptian Pharaoh meets futuristic space alien. He is clearly not of this planet, as he won’t let us forget throughout the remainder of the film.

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            Sun Ra totally rejects Earth as his home. In an attempt to escape the rigidness of racist white supremacist societies and the many stereotypes forced upon him and his people, he takes the form of an intergalactic god. Bound by no definition or ideology that isn’t his own, he returns to Earth to square off with his arch nemesis “the overseer,” who is an amalgamation of Black archetypes, specifically the Black man as “pimp,” which were commonplace in most Blaxploitation films during the movie’s release. Sun Ra’s god portrayal was an alternative challenge to this archetype. He rejected racist white lens of his Black being and defined himself as “the altered destiny; the presence of the living myth.”

In addition to a bold, eccentric, style and an autonomous definition of self, Sun Ra’s main goal while on Earth was to free those “ghetto” Blacks who couldn’t escape the many labels they were caged by. He teleported into a recreational room filled with “good time” Black youth in an attempt to reach them by countering their accusations of him as “unreal” by confirming:

I am not real, just like you in this society. You don’t exist. If you did your people wouldn’t be seeing equal rights…You’re not real. If you were you would have some status among the nations of the world. So we’re both myth’s…I came from a dream that the Black man dreamed long ago. I’m actually a present sent to you by your ancestors.

In this message to his people, Sun Ra forces the youth to think critically about their place in society. He challenges their ease in the identities bestowed upon them by the white man and urges them to be the natural creators they were born to be. In a sense he is saying “you don’t matter here, on this planet, anyway, so why not be whatever you want to be.” This stream of afrofuturist thought is one of the most standout scenes in the film, for it is the crux of Sun Ra’s “job” there on Earth.

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            Sun Ra’s music, much like the language he uses throughout this film, is seemingly nonsensical. He continues the traditional use of coded language Blacks have used for centuries as a tool of communication and survival in order to confuse the listening ears of slavers and government agents looking to infiltrate any plans of liberation. One could describe the sounds of his free jazz genre as purely improvisation. He seems to make up notes and sounds and compilation of the two as he goes along to make the statement that as a free Black, not bound by Earth, he can do as he pleases and present himself in his own choice. Likening himself to the wind, viewers can better grasp the radical essence of Sun Ra’s artistry when he makes the powerful statement of “I, the wind, come and go as I choose, and none can stop me.”

With such powerful messages from both past and the future, one begs the question of where an artist like Sun Ra emerges from. From my viewpoint, he is afrofuturism in the flesh, in that he lives and breathes this “kingdom of darkness and Blackness [where] none can enter except those of the Black spirit.” A kingdom where “nothingness” and boundless sound waves reign supreme in a land, similar to Kemet, where Black is free to just be.

Watch the Brilliant film below to get a better understanding of the “other world” in which Sun Ra dwells:

Sacrifice Until Infinity to Succeed (S.U.I.T.S.) PRESENTS “Food For Thought”!

Calling all event lovers in the tri-state area! Our friends from SUITS are throwing an AWESOME charity event in New Brunswick, NJ on Saturday, November 29, 2014. Prepare to give, receive and taste at this event will they will have awesome food orgs allowing folks to sample some good eats! AfroMadu will be there, and show should you! You don’t want to miss this!!!!

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Sacrifice Until Infinity to Succeed (S.U.I.T.S.) PRESENTS “Food For Thought” A Night of Musical Performances x Poetry with a open mic segment. … R&B Duo Dose (@DOSE_2) will Be Performing also Philadelphia Singer Justin Graham …. (@JustinG_Music) …. Poetry by Lucy And Joel 
And A Food tasting featuring Specialty Food Brands Urban Foodie catering llc, Euphoria in a jar and S.U.I.T.S official Caterers Delish …
This event is to raise money, toiletries Clothes and Food for our #FoodForThought intiative Come out and support our artist
Located at Alfa Art Gallery 108 Church st. New Brunswick NJ
15$ Cover
Doors open at 7pm event starts at 8pm 

Black Film: Reclaiming Our Right As Storytellers

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Recent outrage from individuals in the Black community over the casting of several Hollywood produced films, including Nina Simone’s biopic and Exodus: Gods And Kings (2014), is not only ridiculous but also laughable. As usual, Hollywood casting directors decided it would be a fun idea to inaccurately cast Zoe Saldana, who is a mixed race Latina, as the legendary Nina Simone, who is visibly dark and a heavily African-featured woman, not a fair-skinned Latina like Zoe. Instead of choosing a Black actress who is just as, if not more talented than Zoe Saldana and also fits the physical requirements of the role, someone like Orange Is The New Black star Uzo Aduba, they went through the racist trouble of putting Zoe in blackface in an effort to chan- nel Nina. This move by hollywood directors is not only insulting but predictable. In addition, the movie Exodus: Gods And Kings, which tells a story of Ancient Egyptians, depicts the royal Egyptians as something other than the Black Africans they were, as white men. Of course the slaves in the film are cast as Black, we’re always allowed to be that. This reshaping and whitening/lightening up of our history is what happens when we allow our oppressors to tell the stories we should have been telling all along.

As a reaction to the absurdity of both films, Blacks have voiced opposition and drawn up petitions in an effort to get them shut down. Once again, we’ve found ourselves trapped in an en- gulfing hell of useless pleas and unnecessary explanations, fighting for inclusion and crying about the whitening up of a history we know so well. We’ve allowed ourselves to be reactions to whiteness as opposed to the doers. Instead of creating the stories of Nina Simone and Black Egyptian stories we want to see, we’re pleading for change upon the deaf, careless ears of white media. Let’s face it, Hollywood is a predominately white controlled media platform who always has and will continue to do what they please with such platform because they can. It is not their jobs to accurately tell our stories or to even tell them at all. This overvaluing of white media has to stop in order for us, Black people, to move forward on the rigorous path of healing and independent self-awareness.

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Coming from a legacy of Black filmmakers like Spike Lee, Haile Gerima, and the legendary Os- car Micheaux, who didn’t wait for white media platforms like Hollywood to produce the stories they wanted told, there’s no reason we can’t continue to act as the definers these individuals helped lay the foundation for us to be. It is time, way past time, for us a people to cease the up- holding of white opinions and perspectives over what we know as true. We know Nina Simone was not a fair-skinned Latina, we know Ancient Egyptian royalty were not a court of white men, therefore the emotional reactions to these careless insults by white media are useless. Instead of dredging up petitions or voicing cries of hurt and anger out in the street, combat the obvious lies with art. Ensure that other Black people know the truth about this war of accuracy in history by reclaiming your right as the storyteller and create what you want to see. Zora Neale Hurston once said “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” In this context, if you continue to allow your history to be told by your oppressor, they’ll continue to erase you and trap you in a prison of explaining instead of doing.

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Prose Poetry.

It Occured to Me One Rainy Afternoon,

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Upon hearing the singing of a bird,Maybe the question is the purpose.
The questions that crowd my mind, begging for my attention.
Perhaps my purpose is not
in answering them,
but living them out.
Here Is one:
Why do birds
sing?
I have been struggling against this wind.

Perhaps, it is that
they never cease to sing.

Neither rain nor night nor snow
Can keep them silent.
It is a brave species that will stand against the Night and
sing a song.
Perhaps,
a bird knows there is glory in his singing.

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Glory starts small.
It grows, like an ocean wave that God braids. And we are all stringed along like hairs in his palm.  Glory starts small, pebble by pebble are the questions we are patient enough to live,
in a world that demands
answers.
We breathe the questions unanswered.  We wear a glory unseen. Then it will be us who sing the song. Like the bird who knows true glory, we will give true glory.

Guest Submission: “Slipped Too Deep”

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This poem was inspired by the choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange. Like Shange’s, this poem expresses one of the many struggles and obstacles that African-American women may face throughout their lives.

 

Slipped Too Deep

I moaned for it.

Gripped your skin, and let you push it in-to me

Raw.

My hands shook when you gave it to me.

An orgasm tried to reverse the present but you shoved it back in with two fingers

I loved every bit of it.

And at the time I didn’t know the gift was from your ex,

She picked it up, gave it to you, and then went to the next.

You claimed she was the best.

And I strived to be better, strived to get wetter.

To do things to you she didn’t know existed, but that girl was gifted.

Talented at keeping secrets and giving diseases-

My heart was begging and pleading,

And neither of us could hear it.

Your eyes whispered I’m cheating on you while you were on top

And I encouraged the deceit, screaming don’t stop!

The subliminal message behind every “I love you” was,

“but I say that to all of y’all”

One confession made me feel so small. All of this anger inside of me is building a wall,

That I refuse to climb.

I just knew you were all mine.

My selfish ass never shared nothing,

But all this time you was fronting.

Smiled in my face

And let another bitch take my place.

It’s not right

Stabbed my heart, kissed my cheek, and then cleaned off the knife.

You fucked up my life!

And I cant forgive you.

Still cant believe all of the things you confessed to.

Images create themselves in my mind of what you did to her,

Got to get rid of ya’

Deleted text messages read “sorry I gave you Chlamydia

 

Stephanie Williams 

Kwanzaa: Kuumba: Creativity.

Creativity has always been a big part of our culture, from the songs we sing to our recipes. On this day of Kwanzaa, Kuumba, we praise our creative spirt and encourage all of viewers to create. Creation is expression so feel free to express yourself in any way of your choosing. If you are happy, dance until everyone around you is happy as well. If you are angry paint a picture of your rage, just do not stop creating. People limit creativity to the arts but you can create anything! Are you passionate about children? Create a plan to start an After School Program. Are you a health nut? Create a workout plan for those parents that just cannot seem to find to the time. Also this is a great time to write out your prayers. When you need guidance or just want to say thank you, instead of just saying thank you, write and open letter to your deity, that way nothing will be forgotten and you will be filled with praise.

Creativity never goes out of style. Embrace it, make it apart of you. Once you have began to create your spirit shall forever  live on in your creations, even if  you are the only one who knows their creator. Challenged yourself to reach higher creative plateaus as I have challenged you to begin the creative process.

S.U.I.T.S Art Battle!

Art has a history to tell stories and express emotions. A picture can tell a thousand words, while it represents the feelings and passion of the artist.

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1A few Fridays ago, AfroMadu had the opportunity to attend the Art Battle hosted by S.U.I.T.S ( Sacrifice Until Infinity To Success) where they showcased 4 artist who battled to win the title of the best artist in the tri-state area. These artist included Keath Gerald from Plainifield, NJ, Amair Cline from Harlem, NY, JW from SWEET TOOTH SPECIAL TEES, and Jarmaz from JLW. These artist were all supplied with a canvas and a choice of  paints to create their artwork. Throughout the night, artist mingled and painted their visions while spectators enjoyed the scene with an upbeat DJ, light refreshments and dope people in a super chill environment.

Keath Gerald, A Plainfield native, featured his phenomenal Black Panther piece in the battle. In the upsetting times of the verdict of Trayvon Martin, Keath used the memorable Black Panther Party as the back drop to his vision. In a interview with Keath, his inspiration for his art was his pass heart condition which forced him to stay in the house and unlock his true talent. Since the recovery from the peak of his heart condition, Keath has channeled his newfound energy into painting and now selling his paintings on his very own website. “No one can take your happiness that God gives you.”, Keath told us as the one quote he lives from daily.

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To Contact Keath:

Twitter: @KeathEdwards

Website:kgpaintings.wordpress.com

Instagram: @Keathedwards

6810a1b0f5710130c4802efedc56faac.largeAmair Cline, Harlem born artist, illustrated an amazing, in-depth, portrait of his vision for life. In an interview with Amair, we discussed the issue of people looking at the bigger picture. “Art is everywhere”, he began saying as he further explained his reason for art. Being diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, Amair coped with his mental disorder by understanding expression, perspective, and life overall. His painting even featured a very distinguished from of the word “EARTH”, having “art” infused into “EARTH”. “Progress, nothing less”.

7b2fa8c0f5710130adc6664f78e78509.large To Contact with Amair:

Twitter: @AmairCline

Instagram: @visualgallerynyc

Jarmaz, the founder of the JLW collection, has found himself becoming artistic in all different aspects of life. Along with being1-1 a painter, Jarmaz is also a designer for his brand, and an interior designer on the side. AMAZING! Although we did not get to personally speak to Jarmaz during the battle, his performance was definitely one to experience. His first portrait was a painting of a beautiful Black women standing at the top of his bottom mural, but was then transformed into a bright yellow sunflower in a downward position. “Love Me, Love Me; I’m Still Alive”

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To Contact Jarmaz:

Twitter and Instagram: @JLWcollection

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JW. Hufnagle, a designer in the Sweet Tooth Special Tees company AND the winner of this art battle (YAYYYYYY!) honestly told AfroMadu that he did not know exactly what his painting was about.  He followed up by discussing the fact that art usually comes from a “secret place” in your mind where you do not know where it comes from, but you feed it by drawing *snaps twice*. His infamous sheep that is always included in his drawing is always described as damaged on the inside but fine on the out. This showed that “Nothing is what it seems” and “Wolves don’t sleep over the opinions of sheep”.

Congratulations to Mr. Hufnagle himself as the winner of S.U.I.T.S art battle! 

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To Contact JW Hufnagle:

Twitter and Instagram: @whoishufnagle

1-2Beside these awesome artist, SUITS managed to keep the audience captured and hooked with performances by Moruf, Tajiana Spann, and Tyla; a networking segment, wine and cheese, and an AWESOME DJ rocking the 1’s and 2’s.

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AfroMadu grades this event an A+! We loved EVERYTHING! We would also like to thank the divine men of SUITS for having us!

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SUITS Contact:

@_SUITS: check them out for upcoming events!