As a queer black woman artist I bring an awareness of how gender, race and sexuality influences cultural production. My goal as a DJ and a scholar is to bring voice and visibility to the underground cultures that form the interconnected electronic music of the African diaspora which includes Dub, Hip-hop, Kwaito, Drum n’ Bass, Jazz fusion, Techno and House. This is a large and ongoing project that I pull under the banner of The Afro Digital Migration. My scholarship has its origins in a diverse range of influences that include, yes my formal academic undergraduate and graduate education, but also, the equally credible informal education and skills I’ve developed diggin’ in the crates, reading liner notes, studying album covers and chasing samples. The following projects have all been inspired by a desire to include the social and political context from where music is made.
The Global 80s
“The Global 80s” is a tribute to the bodies that disappeared from communities of colors for reasons that include HIV/AIDs, mass incarceration and xenophobic immigration policy. The objective is to explore the surge in musical creativity by communities wrought by grief yet inspired by resilience. Affordable products of technology from the 1980s supported creative ways to grapple with loss and DJs were on the frontline maintaining the community’s musical archives and therefore its humanity. This project is anchored in the concept of the mixtape. A mixtape is a compilation of carefully selected songs blended together to create a sonic collage of themes and ideas from a specific time. Mixtapes are a public record of a community’s sound. “The Global 80s” will take the mixtape to a new realm, creating musical essays that represent the social and cultural temperature of a city, documenting its music and specific difficulties faced between 1980-89. The project is a research based self-directed month-long artist in residency. I will travel to nine (Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Kingston, Lagos, New York, Chicago, Detroit, D.C.), cities, each chosen because of their historical relationship to DJ culture, and through informal collaboration and conversations with local DJs and activists produce a series of mixtapes that represent a specific community in each city.