This is such a great video, it can be read on so many levels. A South African cover version of an English tune (Joy Division –She’s Lost Control) to me it plays with the kinds of images that signal a terrible, fearful ‘voodoo’ to the mainstream. Western images of traditional African spirituality usually imply loss of self, loss of control, reversion to a mindless savagery that only rational Western ‘civilisation’ cures. Spoek plays around with these images and recasts them in a hip, unsettling, AfroFuturistic video that deserves wider viewing. Big up Spoek!”
Techno/Electronic music is not my favorite genre, but this is too cool to deny! Also, check out The Ase Fountain on Tumblr; it is a very interesting site that covers the various cultures of the African Diaspora.
One of the reasons I was never impressed with Lady Gaga is that I feel as if what she does and wears has been done before and she does not even do a great job at naturally making it her own. Here is a picture I saw on Tumblr today comparing Grace Jones and Gaga, and so this will be a small taste of one of my upcoming posts…
This is why I believe it is important to put things into context, including historical context. It provides for a better argument. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show totally owned Bill O’ Reilly on his own Fox News show. He could not even properly answer Stewart’s questions; he looked like a complete and utter fool. Also, Stewart showed respect to Assata Shakur by saying the name she goes by now, not her government name. Stewart revealed the racist and elitist undertones of Fox News and O’ Reilly’s argument against the Obamas inviting Common to the White House and the ridiculousness of O’ Reilly trying to differentiate between Common and other musicians like Bono, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. My respect for Stewart has reached another level.
I remember growing up how I gazed in amazement when I saw Michael Jackson doing this move. Every time I tried to do it, I felt I could never do it justice, my feet would always find it hard to slide back properly.
To this day, I think Michael Jackson is one of the greatest dancers of all time! Do you know why? It is because he had so many dance influences, from Gene Kelly to James Brown. As Jackson said, “Study the greats and become greater.” And guess what, that famous “moonwalk” of his is not even his dance. I know, gasp!
At the 1:43 mark, you will see Daniel do the moonwalk or backslide, as it was called before. This video premiered a year before Jackson made the dance famous at Motown 25 in 1983. As seen with Daniel, the dance was a part of the breakdancing and popping dance technique. Actually, Jackson was a huge fan of Soul Train and learned the dance from Daniel.
However, Daniel did not invent the “moonwalk” either. Other musicians and dancers performed it as far back as the early 30s. Tap dancer, Bill Bailey, and Jazz bandleader, Cab Calloway, did the first recorded versions of it.
Bailey at 0:49
Though Jackson never claimed that he created the move, many people think he did because it became popular with him. This is probably due to a number of reasons: the magnitude of Jackson’s impact on pop culture, his smoother dancing skills and the slight invisibility that Black culture has within dominant culture. Many cultural phenomenon did not gain popularity till much later and usually with someone else who was more famous.
But, I still love Michael doing that move and I can do it now too!
“Open your ears to hear words, songs and other important matters.”
Last week, while looking up poetry from the Harlem Renaissance writers, and the Jazz drummer, Art Blakey, for my honors thesis, I stumbled upon a piece by Ned Sublette wrote two years ago about his theory of “Postmamboism:”
“…Postmamboism is closely allied with (but not limited to) history, anthropology, linguistics, literature and critical theory, cultural studies, religious studies, urban studies, communications, performing and plastic arts, and all manner of Africanist and Hispanist study, to say nothing of musicology and ethnomusicology. Overlapping with other theoretical perspectives, Postmamboism is intrinsically cross-disciplinary and bi-directional: if music provides a way to hear into history, history also provides a necessary grounding to the study of music.
Postmamboism acknowledges a dialectic between its essential reference point of music that is popular (literally, of the people, signifying music that springs from historical roots and, relying on memory and person-to-person transmission, is infinitely renewable), and pop, which is presentist and must be mediated, consumed and replaced. Postmamboism speaks in the vernacular, deprivileging jargon, cultic language, and hyperpolysyllabicism. Postmamboism values the testimony, experience, and vocabulary of cultural practitioners, because for Postmamboists as for musicians, theory must be connected to practice…”
Ned Sublette is a writer, historian, photographer and singer-songwriter, who has written several books, including “The Year Before the Flood” about the city of New Orleans. He definitely has an interesting theory, especially with the progressive and activist tone of it, and it should receive more attention; maybe I will become a postmamboist one day.
And speaking of Mambo, here is Arsensio Rodriguez, the Cuban bandleader who claimed to be the “Father of the Mambo” and from whom the first quote is derived.
Do you know how long I have been trying to find this film?! And the only place where I can find it, sells it for almost $300!!!!
Directed by Ghana-born English director, John Akomfrah, the 1995 documentary, The Last Angel of History,explores the intersections between Black music, science fiction, and African Diasporic religion, spirituality and history. The “data thief” collects fragments of the past to crack a code to open the door to his future. It is similar to the West African word, Sankofa, which I have a tattoo of on my back.
“In keeping with the futuristic tenor of the film, the interviews are intercut with images of Pan-African life from different periods of history, jumping between time and space from the past to the future to the present, not unlike the mode of many rock videos or surfing the Internet.”
This film is perfect for someone like me, fusing together several of my interests and providing some of the basis for my blog.
Anyone want to go on an archeological dig with me on the internet to find a cheaper DVD of this film or to find where this film is showing?
This is Aker, Ms. Futuristically Ancient and I am a Time Traveler!
My name Aker (pronounced Ah-Care) comes from an ancient Egyptian god represented by two lions facing opposite each other with the sun in between. He was know as the god of yesterday and tomorrow as well as the horizon. He also guarded the underworld through which the sun passed through creating the night and when it came out, day would come.
The reason why my blog focuses on putting culture into a historical context has to do with the god Aker, who relates to West African word Sankofa and the Greek god Janus. We did not come from nothing. The past, present and future are all connected and the past has had an influence on the way we are now. By learning the past, we can better situate ourselves within time and better handle our future.