Tag Archives: artist

The Music & Metaphysics of Sun Ra

tumblr_n5klhlSo2S1rtynt1o1_r1_500

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.

tumblr_n9kvvqons91s4e5mdo1_500

            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.

tumblr_nie1tz2Ii61rhs603o1_500

            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:

Give me a Beat!: The Art of Beat Boxing

images-154

Beatboxing: The Art of Urban Vocal Percussion. i.e. imitating drum sounds and beat patterns using your lips, tongue, mouth, throat, and voice.

 

 

The Art of Beat Boxing itself is a language spoken among the artists one might think of beat boxing as a type of Hip-Hop dialect. To the naked ear the rhythm and beats sound like mere patterns, but to an artist it speaks volumes. The beat itself becomes the message; in place of lyrics and bars there are methodical symphonies of vocal percussion. Artists such as Biz Markie and Slick Rick used the art of Beast Boxing as an Urban strategy to connect with the youth of the time. In times of sociopolitcal warfare Hip Hop and it’s various genres and forms has take on a movement of it’s own a tool of positive propaganda. Now in days beat boxing has taken to the streets of the underground back to where it originated. With the tainted system of the industry artists find themselves housed by the world of Spoken Word. In an age of technology and a digital generation one might ask is the art itself forgotten? As young people have we lost focus of what is most important to the art and activism of the Hip Hop movement? Activism to Hip Hop is what Language is to Beat Boxing. The language of beat boxing is not only heard, but it is felt. You can feel the vibration of the artist as it’s energy commands your body to sway and your head to nod. Beat boxing is a revolutionary form of language that should be brought back into the spotlight. In the words of Assata Shakur, 

“Hip Hop can be a very powerful weapon to help expand young people’s political and social consciousness. But just as with any weapon, if you don’t know how to use it, if you don’t know where to point it, or what you’re using it for, you can end up shooting yourself in the foot or killing your sisters or brothers. The government recognized immediately that Rap music has enormous revolutionary potential. Certain politicians got on the bandwagon to attack Rappers like Sister Soldier and NWA. You’ve got various police organizations across the country who have openly expressed their hostility towards Rap artists. For them, most Rappers fall in the category of potential criminals, cop killers, or subversives.”

images-155

Think of the movie Men and Black II when Will Smith and Biz Markie are in the mail room having a conversation. Beat boxing is more than iust an art it is a part of our history and a method of self liberation and expression. What is understood sometimes does not need to be explained.

images-156

Beat boxing revolutionized the Hip Hop movement  by creating a new language. There are no words that can explain what is being explained, but it is understood. With that being said, eye implore you as the reader to look back at the footprints left for us and reconnect to the heart of the movement. As young activists we have to continue the legacy that was left for us and rediscover self.

 

Case Study, part one: Beautiful People.

beautiful people,
    lining up streets
    taking out shrapnel 970143_267108810101875_850091147_n
    and dancing off beat
beautiful people,
    clothed with their scars
    building their bridges 
    with old prison bars
beautiful people,
    singing off key,
    ‘down with your monopoly
    on our standards of beauty!’
beautiful people,  
     opening doors, 
     walking through fires
     and coming out in four
beautiful people,
     some sages, 
     some babies,
     some meek old ladies
     
     some Martin’s
     some martyrs
     some 300 missing daughters

284357_4073283304831_726547536_n beautiful people,
     who grew amongst weeds,
     who yielded true courage
    the fruit of imperishable seeds 

-Naomie Jean Pierre 

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.

BRCeZ4CCAAEhP9_.jpg-thumb

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.

04d1f890f56d01307bf76abd83f610e6.large

7791f5a0f56c013010ca7ecd85802da4.large

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”

5947c2c0f5760130f2b45abf565a8de1.large

To Contact Jarmaz:

Twitter and Instagram: @JLWcollection

7c304cf0f5790130f2b45abf565a8de1

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! 

480cdfc0f57a0130f2b45abf565a8de1.large

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.

1-3

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

585a9020f57b01301cd04e6aab551edd.large

SUITS Contact:

@_SUITS: check them out for upcoming events!