Afrofuturism in Music

As we discussed in class, Afrofuturism in music is an interesting avenue to explore, with artists like Erykah Badu or Janelle Monae. After some searching, I found an episode of This American Life that discusses Afrofuturism. It led me to a song called “The Deep” by a group called clppng which features Daveed Diggs from Hamilton. The podcast explains that, “The song is based on the underwater mythology of the 90s Detroit electro band Drexciya.” The song works with a mythology that imagines that pregnant women who were thrown off of slave ships birthed their children in the water and these children were able to create a thriving civilization under the sea. The intro to the song states, “We built our home on the sea floor, unaware of the two-legged surface dwellers until their world came to destroy ours. With cannons, they searched for oil beneath our cities. Their greed and recklessness forced our uprising.” The song goes on to talk about an uprising from these people after the people on the surface ruin the peace in the civilization down below. The song imagines great peace in this civilizatoin built from children who would have been slaves, and deals very openly with the questions, “what if we had never been colonized? What if we have been left alone?” This kind of imagined separate space makes me think of “the quarter of the negro” that Langston Hughes discusses. Although this space can sometimes be negative in Hughes’ work, both discuss a space purely for black people, without interruption from any kind of white colonizing power.

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