Tag Archives: Ibaaku

Seven Steps to Perfection: A Guide Towards the Afrofuture in Music

Afrofuturism

Illustration by Max Löffler

In the ’90s, R&B and hip-hop music videos by groups like Blaque, OutKast, and Missy Elliott burst out of the hive with the vibrancy of ritual, referencing everything from atmospheric independent African diaspora films, like Daughters of the Dust to Star Trek. These videos were high fantasy—but with the ubiquitous ‘90s video sheen of exaggerated colorwash and fisheye-lens effects.

Also during the ’90s, the term Afrofuturism was coined to discuss the rising interest in surreal, fantastical, and futuristic Black literature (from the likes of Samuel Delany, Octavia E. Butler, and Charles Saunders), and its connection to other forms of Black art (music and visual art in particular) that married science fiction tropes and ideas with Black radical politics, spirituality, and lived experiences. The idea then was to project idealized forms of Blackness into the future without eschewing any of the aesthetic markings that made Black existence in a post-colonial world unique. Artists imagined urban habitation adorned with updated ritual practice, the ghetto as space station geared out in chrome, and general narratives about space travel to coincide with the ecstasy of the music: the layered, heavy beats and hazy, jazz-inspired productions that were the norm of the time. This gave way to the explorations of Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, and Janelle Monae.

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Akwaaba Music Spotlights the Alternative “Hiplife” of Africa’s Youth

Akwaaba Music

In Twi—one of Ghana’s local languages—“akwaaba” means “welcome.” Benjamin Lebrave, the French-American founder of the Accra-based label Akwaaba, chose the name to describe its main goal: to welcome people to new and unexpected African sounds, while also introducing artists to new markets.

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