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Author Archives: Aker

About Aker

Hello. I am a Baruch College graduate with a B.A. in Music and Journalism, and a focus in African Diasporic Studies. I plan to expand on my blog, Futuristically Ancient, publish my thesis on percussion in hip-hop and my poetry collection, and probably go to Grad School for Cultural Studies and Media Analysis. I have been to Dominica, Japan and London. I can speak Japanese and French. My interests are music, writing, poetry, studying different types of art, African Diasporic studies, Religion/Spiritual Systems, Comparative Analysis and much more. I also have locs (dreadlocks) and since I am a Leo, I love my hair! LOL!

Modern Griots Reviews: State of Grace – Grace Jones Retrospective


Grace Jones Retrospective at Joe's PubGrace Jones’ exemplified “the human right to self-express,” singer Davi said before he performed Jones’ song “Living My Life.” The Jamaican-born British singer did just that with her commanding stage presence never apologizing for who she is, her androgynous look, striking beauty and out-of-this-world style. And neither did any other of the performers for the night matching Jones’ suave and yet assertive persona.

Presented by Black Rock Coalition, who will be celebrating 30 years next year, and curated by musicians Gordon Voidwell and Tecla,the show featured several musicians, including Daví, Tamara Renee, Angelica Bess (Body Language), Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum), and Bryndon Cook (Starchild, singing their own tributes to various Jones’ songs. Joining them in the band were other noteworthy names from the co-curator Tecla on keytar to Val Jeanty on electronic percussion.

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Otherworldly Videos: Tamara Renée’s The Moon Goddess


Last Friday, I attended Black Rock Coalition‘s State of Grace: A Grace Jones  Retrospective and Tamara Renée was one of the musical guests for the night. So, before I give you the review for the show tomorrow, here is her latest video for “The Moon Goddess.”

 

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Moving on the Wires: Recent News and Posts


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This post has been missing for the past couple of weeks, so here is a combined one:

Rasheedah Phillips’ “Black Quantum Futurism” theory

*Should Science Fiction and Fantasy be Included in the “New Wave of African Writers”? on Books Live: Since Science Fiction and Fantasy are still considered genre fiction and not high literary fiction, I can see why this happened. Still not right though.

*”So I Geek Yeeah: Six Black Women Geeks You Should Know” on For Harriet.

*”Afrofuturism through the eyes of Bill Campbell” Interview on Oak Park: “Oddly enough, I’m one of those artists who’s not really into definitions. However, I think of Afrofuturism as an artistic movement spanning the different disciplines where the Diaspora gets to examine its own past and future, its own humanity within the context of speculative fiction. It is global and quite disparate and, to me, incredibly hard to pin down in just a few words. I think that’s why I like it so much. There are so many possibilities within Afrofuturism — and within all of us.”

MLK, science fiction, innovation, creative thinking and Afrofuturism” Interview with Ytasha Womack on Chicago Tribune: “[Afrofuturism is looking at alternate realities through a black cultural lens. It’s expressed in so any different mediums, but it brings in science, math and philosophy. It provides a window to look at all these different ideas.”

*Submissions call for next issue of Joint Literary Magazine: “Capitalist Realities and Their Consequences.

We are looking for work that responds to the question, “How do capitalist conceptions of time expand or limit how we perceive reality and negotiate our identities as persons within the African diaspora?” Consider capitalist notions about time and space, the commodification of body and/or intellectual resources, etc.”

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Modern Griots Interviews: Colored Girls Hustle Part 2


Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape*Become a patron and support my blog and other writing endeavors on Patreon!

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Here is part two of yesterday’s interview with Colored Girls Hustle’s Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris.In this part, they talk about their plans and expectations for the mixtape and Colored Girls Hustle, and how their work is both futuristic and ancient. Enjoy!

5) What other plans do you have in addition to the release of the mixtape? Will be there be a Volume II in the works?

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Taja: Right now, we’re focused on promoting this mixtape. We want as many people as possible to hear it, bump it, get with it, love it and love on themselves. In the next year we’d love to bring this show on the road! We’ve got some performances coming up and a menu of workshop offerings will soon be available so folks can bring us to their schools/universities and communities. And while we plan to continue to make songs on our own and with other artists, I’m not sure about another project just yet.

 

Some Colored Girls Hustle swag is on the way! We’re working on t-shirts and a mixtape zine will soon be available. These things will be available for purchase later this summer.

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Modern Griots Interviews: Colored Girls Hustle Part 1


Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape

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Hey, everyone! I’m returning after a short break with an interview I did with Colored Girls Hustle’s Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris. A few weeks ago I did a review of their Colored Girls Hustle Hard mixtape and below they talk about their inspirations for the mixtape and the process of making it as well as upcoming performance they have planned. Tomorrow I will post part two!

1) What inspired you to make the mixtape and who or what were specific inspirations for each of the tracks?

Taja: Back in 2012 we were both talking about how Colored Girls Hustle needed an anthem… a remix of a popular song that talks about hustling. Jessica and I have been friends for 10 years and we’ve spent about half our friendship as roommates. So, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and we were stuck in the house for several days, we got the inspiration to finally write the anthem. That was the genesis of the mixtape. We released a webcam video of us rapping the “Colored Girls Hustle Hard Anthem” and we were surprised by how many views we received so quickly. Friends shared the video. Friends of friends. And their friends. And we got so much positive feedback! From there we were like yeah, lets keep this going. Lets continue to make songs! It was fun for us and people liked what we had to say. That led us to create the Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape.

Inspirations and meanings behind various tracks:

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The My-Stery: Magic, Mystery, Spooks, Superpowers and the Future in Blues


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A couple of days ago I was searching for blues artists that I haven’t heard of and I came across Willie Brown and his song, “Future Blues.” The song inspired me to create a short playlist with blues songs of a speculative nature. As for the title of the playlist, it comes from a book I stumbled across while looking for songs, Mark Winborn’s Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey. Also, for additional reading, here is Victor Kennedy’s essay called, Magic and the Blues. Enjoy!

Songs in Playlist:

Wilton Crawley and Jelly Roll Morton’s “Futuristic Blues”

Willie Brown’s “Future Blues”

Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Ain’t Superstitious”

Willie Dixon – “Seventh Son”

J.T. “Funny Paper” Smith – Seven Sisters Blues

Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues”

Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train”

Memphis Minne’s “Hoodoo Lady Blues”

Bessie Smith’s “Blue Spirit Blues”

Bessie Smith’s “Cemetery Blues”

Bessie Smith’s “Spider Man Blues”

Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Working”

Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man”

Muddy Waters’ “I’m a Man (Mannish Boy)”

Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman”

Koko Taylor’s “I’m a Woman”

John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana’s “The Healer”

 

 

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Modern Griots Reviews: Rasheedah Phillips’ “Recurrence Plot and Other Time Travel Tales”


Recurrence Plot cover

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Experiment: Write a letter to your future self or past self. Try to meditate and astral project yourself into the body of one of those selves before or while you are writing to do so. Can you remember past and future memories?

(Not from the book but in the style of it)

If you study metaphysics and archetypal psychology, you might have heard the term synchronicity. Popularized by Carl Jung, synchronicity is defined as “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events…that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality” or as he describes it, “synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer. I’ll be honest I do believe in synchronicity because I have had numerous strange coincidences maybe because I was intuitively looking for something and happen to come across it, or I set things into motion by looking for something in one place and stumble across something relevant in another. For example, I applied for a poetry fellowship and I was compelled to go through the list of the previous fellows; one of them was Reginald Dwayne Betts. I read some of his poems and happened to like them. About a week or two later, I went to the library and randomly decided to look through the poetry section and found a collection of Robert Hayden poems. I remembered enjoying his poetry as well, so I flipped to the forward and started reading; the writers description sounded familiar and I didn’t realize why until I looked at the cover again and realized that it was written by Betts. How did I stumble across a collection introduced by Betts soon after I just found out about him? Hmmm? Does it mean something? I don’t know, but it was spooky.

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Moving on the Wires: Recent News and Posts


*Become a patron and support my blog and other writing endeavors on Patreon!

*Update: This Thursday is the opening reception for I Am Here: Blacking the Internet at Superchief Gallery in NYC featuring the work of Azikiwe Mohammad, Terrell Davis, Nandi Loaf, Devin Kenny & Palmtrees Caprisun Citrusblast and Juliana Huxtable. The run of the show is from tommorrow, July 1st to July 14th.

*The documentary Brandon Easton’s Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21ST Century documentary will be on DVD on July 15th and and currently available for download via Paypal by sending $7.99 to ShadowLawComic@gmail.com.

*Nettrice Gaskin’s “Black Futurism: The Creative Destruction and Reconstruction of Race in Contemporary Art:“Contemporary black artists often refute conventional notions or images of blackness and replace them with altered realities. Their works exist in the social imaginary between the symbolic and the real—avatars with alternate, hybrid, or cyborg identities, surrounded by worlds that stimulate the viewer’s awareness of the future.”

*”Girls of Afrofuturism: The future is in our past” on Vanguard.

*”Janelle Monáe Is The Most Defiant Artist Of Her Generation” on HuffPost: “It’s a little more confusing when it comes to sci-fi understandings of her past (wait, is she literally an android?), but when we talk about identifying sexual preference or identity there is a certain power to Monáe’s refusal to participate in the media cycle associated with her rising level of fame. Why should we be privy to that personal information or have access to yet another means of classifying her? “The lesbian community has tried to claim me,” she told Rolling Stone, when asked yet again about how she identifies. “But I only date androids. Nothing like an android — they don’t cheat on you.”

*Rejected Princesses Tumblr. Imagine if Disney was bold enough to make films about these women.

*K. Tempest Bradford’s “Women Are Destroying Science Fiction! (That’s OK; They Created It) on NPR: “So are women destroying science fiction? Yes. Women created it, so it’s only fair. (Most would cite Frankenstein author Mary Shelley here, but others point out that preceded her.) In destroying it, women are creating a larger space for themselves within science fiction; one filled with their voices, dreams, experiences and realities.”

*Octavia Butler-related articles and posts in honor of her birthday last week:

-Adrienne Maree Brown of Octavia’s Brood published Reflections on Octavia Butler’s Earthseed on Scribd: “A book to use for reflection and meditation towards deepening practice with Octavia Butler’s Earthseed philosophy (from the Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents). Gathered by adrienne maree brown, including Alexis Pauline Gumbs, dream hampton, Moya Bailey, Autumn Brown, Ayana Jamieson, Bilen Berhanu, Adela Nieves, Lynnee Denise, Tanuja Jagernauth, Alta Starr, Peter Hardie and more…”

-Brown’s article in Yes Magazine’s “Change Is Divine: How Sci Fi Visionary Octavia Butler Influenced This Detroit Revolutionary:“The ideas in Butler’s fiction challenge us to contend with our own choices and take responsibility for our own power.”

- “16 Things You Didn’t Know About Octavia Butler” on Buzzfeed.

-Finding Estella⇢ an Octavia Butler research pocket

-”Octavia Butler Fans Psyched Over 2 New Science Fiction Tales” on The Root.

-”“There’s Nothing New / Under The Sun, / But There Are New Suns”: Recovering Octavia E. Butler’s Lost Parables by Gerry Canavan” on LA Review: “What Butler had ultimately hoped to do was write four Parables sequels: Parable of the Trickster, Parable of the Teacher, Parable of Chaos, and Parable of Clay. The titles suggest a shift from a Christian idiom (Sower, Talents, and Trickster all reference Biblical parables) to an Earthseed one (Teacher, Chaos, and Clay seem likely to be parables drawn from Olamina’s life, not Christ’s).”

*“Octavia Butlers fictional religion of ‘Earthseed’ inspires real religious movement on IEET: ” The Terasem religion.

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Danez Smith


“I have left Earth in search of darker planets…I have left Earth and I won’t stop until I’ve found a place where my kin can be safe…”

I saw Danez Smith‘s “Dear White America” posted on Upworthy and thought it was fitting for here.

 

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Modern Griots Reviews: Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape


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What is your hustle?

Colored Girls Hustle featuring founder Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris released their first official mixtape, Colored Girls Hustle Hard, a 19-track compilation reimagining the conventional ideas of what it means to hustle and giving positive encouragement and education in their lyrics with fun, danceable tracks for and about black women, black girls and other women of color. For Colored Girls Hustle, hustling is not about getting money and material items at the expense of others, but about forging communities and movements, seeking justice, creating safe spaces for black women and girls to be who they are and love who they are completely in mind, body and spirit, and world-building and creating futures.  In their description of the mixtape, they reinforce these ideas that are clear in their music, “using powerful beats and powerful words to catalyze audacious self-expression and authentic living. We speak from our lived experiences as Black women to affirm, honor and celebrate how our communities hustle hard for justice, creativity, and wellness….This is the groundwork for our vision of hustle: doing passion-filled and purpose–driven work.”

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