AfroFuturism in J Coles KOD album

I believe that something that would be great to discuss in terms of Afrofuturism would be J Coles album KOD. The reason I say this is because the entire album tells a story, and each song is like a chapter in the story. The main message is the struggles faced by children in the African American communities in our time. His main focus is the fact that young African American children are more prone to be exposed to terrible things such as drugs as well as gang related activities. This is because they are raised and brought up in areas that are not as fortunate as others, therefore they are more easily manipulated. He then writes about in his songs how certain people have the power to help these young children but don’t do anything to help them. One particular idea that we talked about in class that I believe relates to this album and the story it tells is the argument between an aesthetic and an activist.  It goes back to the argument that if you have someone with the power and the voice to make a change for these kids, is it wrong for them not to? And on the other hand, some of the activists who are trying to make a difference don’t have the platform as some of the aesthetic’s may have.

One Reply to “AfroFuturism in J Coles KOD album”

  1. Your identification of KOD here raises a really important question for our class: when is a work Afrocentric or Afroaware, and when Afrofuturist? I love noname’s Telefon (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/28jLIgfTjY3csvNATpODAW), and love its subversions of dominant culture, but it’s not to me an Afrofuturist work (happy to hear counter-arguments) because it’s something that concerns itself more with documenting, bearing witness to, and agitating for chance about existing social and cultural injustices (cf. a song called “Reality Check”). It wants to reimagine, but it’s perhaps not speculative.

    Getting to these fineries is important to analysis and reflection…your enthusiasms for and thoughts on KOD are really important, but so too is working with quotations from the readings and working with modes of inquiry (question, speculation, hypothesis) that help push further. It’s okay – good, even, – to be able to identify a work as NOT afro-futurist, both to define what that work is doing and also to show what that Afro-futurist texts tend to do.

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