Archive for August 2012
This is a short little video piece we put together with Burkina Faso’s Obscur Jaffar. Obscur Jaffar is one of those unique voices in hip hop with a style that is completely original.
Featuring: Obscur Jaffar
Director/Editor/DP: Magee (Nomadic Wax)
We quite literally came up on this one accidentally. We randomly ran into an enormous crew of African hip hop artists at a local restaurant in DC (Busboys and Poets to be exact) who were all here for an Arts Exchange sponsored by the US State Department. So we had to organize something. Here is a little improptu cipher featuring heads from Benin, Djibouti, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, and Swaziland, and of course we brought in DC heavyweight Flex Mathews.
Featuring: Flex Mathews, Waterflow, Obscur Jaffar, Romeo, Betty Akna, Don Deltafa, Archange, Riderman, Chaka Pompi, and KrTC.
Shot & Edited: Magee (Nomadic Wax)
Calling everyone for this unforgettable, once in a lifetime occasion!! Pop in for a very special late evening social at the gallery, where we will host a decadent evening of stimulating discussion, fine food, and music and art that flows with the vibe of our exhibition.
The Biospheric Foundation, Epoch 6 Urban Lab, and 5 North Architects will speak about “Urban West Africa”, their series of interventions about sustainable and forward-thinking design and development in the rapidly urbanising African geography. They have also built an internet kiosk for a live communications feed to Bamako, Mali, especially for the event!
Our music and dance performance for the evening, courtesy of Band on the Wall, stars Jokeh Sillah and Santa Yalla Arts. Jokeh is a dancer from the Gambia and she will be performing with three accompanying drummers. We will also be showing a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary ‘Democracy in Dakar’, a film about youth, hip-hop, and politics in Africa. And, there will be special West African nibbles provided by Q Café, as well as our own bar, and special exhibitions just for this event. Don’t miss this incredible evening!
Saturday, 18th of August, 7.30 – 10.30 PM, FREE (excluding bar)
“Agonia,” featuring Gabriel Teodros and Hollis Wong-Wear, produced by Jim B., presents a historical revision of food, understood as a fundamental mechanism in the process of colonialism, the slave diet and its irremediable consequence and impact on the body and psyche of the oppresed. In addition, “Agonia” brings forward a deconstruction of the exclusionary eating habits of liberal democracies, where the fetish for organic products along with the increasing price of food continues to reflect inequity, which continues to strengthen the dangerous agenda of extermination concealed by the food production industry.
Big up Maori Holmes for putting together an amazing festival! Here’s a sneak peek at what Magee and team were doing in Philly.
This video was directed by RT for The NE the song ‘Black Bodies‘ is available on the album One Day Soon//
As I write this I am sitting in a cafe in Junction in Nairobi, Kenya; one of the places that made me decide to record the album One Day Soon. I came here after spending two months travelling through South Africa (Capetown, Port Elizabeth, East London, Grahamstown, Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg) and am now on the verge trying to confirm a trip/show in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
I have been away from Toronto, for almost twelve weeks in a particularly violent summer for the city. Anyone who has worked with young people in the areas affectionately branded (yes I mean branded) as ‘priority neighbourhoods’ by government and large non-profit agencies knows that this type of violence is not unprecedented, unfortunately in many parts of Toronto it is quite regular.
What is different about this violence, as in the case of Jane Creba on boxing day a few years ago, is that these shootings have been ‘random,’ they have put people in danger who don’t usually feel that they are vulnerable to this type of violence and that freaks them/us out. What incidents like this should reveal is how privileged many of us are to live in relative safety. Many people around Toronto and many people around the globe do not enjoy this type of privilege. For some reason we are more afraid of ‘random’ violence because it might take the lives of ‘innocent’ people. The idea of ‘innocence’ is however a value judgement on human life. ‘Innocent’ people are more valuable than ‘the guilty’ by societies standards. Unfortunately ‘guilt’ is often perceived. I’ll explain. When I walk into banks, corner stores and certain neighbourhoods I personally can be perceived as potentially guilty or at least worthy of fear despite my good intention, it comes along with the territory of being a black male in North America (and almost anywhere else in the world quite frankly).
Many young people in Toronto, often but not exclusively black , often but not exclusively male have lost their lives in Rexdale, Jane & Finch, Esplanade, Jungle, P.O., Regent Park, Blake Street, Malvern etc. etc. etc. for a long time and there hasn’t been this kind of outrage as the Jane Creba shooting or the Eaton Centre shooting that happened a few weeks back. All loss of life is tragic because all life is valuable. We show our entitlement when we think our safety is worth more than the many people who live with this kind of violence every day as a result of their economic standing, physical environment or social standing. If you are more upset by Jane Creba than Chantel Dunn for instance, you might be practicing this form or prejudice, as a matter of fact, if you live in Toronto and you know the name Jane Creba and not the name Chantel Dunn you might be subject to our medias prejudice. Why are we more outraged when this happens close to us? Why are we more outraged when the victim looks like us? What is the value of a human life?
It is spectacularly short-sighted to think that the answer to this type of violence is throwing money at the issue, more police, tougher jail sentences or kicking people out of the city (a suggestion from our amazingly short sighted Toronto mayor). If I continued to have faith in the non-profit sector I might say that the answer is more programs or something cliche like that, but unfortunately I don’t believe that the answer as that simple. The answer is somewhere in what our society values and what society does not value (I feel like I could write an entire book on society and value.. so I’ll just leave it at that).
A few years ago I saw a young man get shot in my neighbourhood; heard shots, looked out the back window of my apartment down to the street where I used to ride my bike as a kid and saw this young man on his knees holding his chest and stomach while his friend called the police. Three weeks later this young man passed away in the hospital due to his injuries. His name was Jermaine, he was not the first or the last to die of a gunshot wound in Esplanade, and my neighbourhood is not known as a particularly dangerous one. I did not know this young man and I could choose whether to be involved or not despite our proximity; another privilege.
A few weeks later his mother came to lay flowers and ask the press for support in helping to find his murderer, she came with his girlfriend and his new baby.
This incident was the impetus for the writing of the song Black Bodies. It was different to me to feel the closeness of this violence as opposed to thinking about it academically, and I still didn’t feel the effects personally; I personally didn’t lose anyone I had a relationship with.
Black Bodies references the line in the song “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday (later covered by Nina Simone), specifically the line “black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the Poplar trees.” The bridge of ‘Black Bodies’ specifically makes multiple references to the song ‘Strange Fruit.’ ‘Black Bodies’ is an attempt to re-contextualize the lynching of black people, specifically black men. At one stage people were being lynched by racists simply for being black, now, in addition to the justice system, education system, economic and social systems lynching us (statistically black people are the highest represented in prisons even where they are not the majority, highest represented in terms of drop out rates, are large populations in poverty stricken communities and are often high occupants of what some call the ‘under class) we are also highly represented as victims of violence, gun violence specifically and often from our own community. Unfortunately I now know people who “occupy both sides of the trigger” and it has changed my perspective. Some I supposed would believe that this has only to do with blacks as people, an enormous and prejudice simplification of the problem that denies so many historical, economic and social factors as to be almost laughable, if the reality completely serious (but again, I digress).
Myself and Randall Thorne (RT) started disguising a concept for the visuals for this song over a year ago; we applied for and received a VideoFACT grant (which I wasn’t expecting). The original idea was a short documentary with the mothers of victims of gun violence from different part ofToronto telling their stories form their perspective. We went and met with five families who had lost their sons to violence and listened to their stories, their frustrations, their pain and their joy. For me, despite this idea not panning out, this was the most important part of me creating this song. Unfortunately because of the sensitivity of the subject matter we ended up not being able proceed with the original idea for the video as we had envisioned it and decided to go a more traditional route due to logistics and an over-extended production schedule.
I would however like to thank all the mothers and families that we met with for sharing their stories, opening their doors and more than anything educating us about a side of these stories that I still don’t feel like has been properly explored. Thank you so much for your time, resilience, strength and vulnerability.
Below are the lyrics to the song (I thought for this one it was important). Thanks again to all the families that we spoke to and thank you to RT and Rinku for being so patient and working so hard on this project.
This video is dedicated to all those people who have lost their lives too soon.
Congratulations to Alesh and Ben Herson for being amongst the three winners of the Anti-Corruption
music awards!. Fair Play is an awareness-raising program and network
building effort to connect socially conscious artists and citizens worldwide, brought to you by the JMI
Foundation, the World Bank Institute and the Global Youth Anti-Corruption Youth Network.
Nomadic Wax met Alesh in Kinshasa in DR Congo in August 2011 during its trip funded by Development
Alternatives Inc (put link of Ed’s DAI article). During Nomadic Wax’s stay in Kinshasa Alesh took the NW
team to Kindele, a poor neighborhood in the outskirt of Kinshasa where Scotty, another great rapper,
lived. The ‘Reveil’ video was shot in Kindele in just an hour, the energy level was high and the video
reflects the hope youth have and the reality in which they live. The song was written before the 2008
elections and Alesh wanted a video to re-ignite critical thoughts about the 2011 elections.
Although the video was later on banned in parts of DRC, Nomadic Wax encouraged Alesh to submit the
video to Fairplay. This year Fairplay received 74 videos from all corners of the world and Alesh’s video
obtained almost 10.000 votes. This victory shows that his message resonates with a great number of
people. Alesh has won a trip to Brazil, where he will perform live in Brasilia and participate in the 3rd
GYAC Voices Against Corruption Forum.
Keep up the good work!