Monday, November 12, 2007

Zora Says: Who Be We in the Galaxy?

I agree with Gordon. Sun Ra and his Arkestra should be an obvious choice for our galactic calling card. His music has been reaching other worlds for quite a while now ... Space__Is___The___Place. Close seconds, for me, would be Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Fela Kuti. Dim lights, deep merlot (some need reefer) and any of these guys on the CD player has the potential of elevating even the most mundane of us to another world.

Sun Ra

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Fela Kuti

There is absolutely no place for anything Hip Hop on our mix tape. This isn’t a slam against the genre, but more a comment on the nature of the music. Overall, it addresses the business of the street, the here-and-now. Where once it provided an alternative voice, a “bite back,” it increasingly just promotes a faux vision of gangster life, of urban life, of negro life … What’s more, it is ahistorical – for most hip hop artists, our life began in the 1980s (maybe the 70s, but only as a source of samples). Transcendence Hip Hop does not offer.

Communing with alternative life forms requires something existential, a deep probing of who we be – as negro Americans, as decedents of Africans, as Black people, as men and women, as human beings, as earthlings … Who be we? I still don’t know, but Sun Ra, Kirk and Kuti are examples of black artists who require serious introspection.

Post note:
Anyone who appreciates the music of Sun Ra, should not be so quick to dismiss science fiction, speculative fiction, zombie flicks, etc. These art forms require the same level of thought -- an ability to imagine alternative ways of being, to reason outside of what has been given to us as rational. Octavia Butler, for example, was one who understood well the potential for science/speculative fiction to explore and explain the madness and irrationality of race. Chauncey and I will have to school you on this later …

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