Music Can Do Anything.
It might seem strange for a writer to say, but I believe music was my first voice; my dad was a jazz pianist, and sitting on the bench with him when I was four, five, six, etc., singing out the words from his fake book as he played was how we bonded. All of us four sibs took music; I couldn’t focus long enough to take my short-lived piano lessons seriously.
Appearances can be deceiving. In college I was in a very short-lived – as in 3 or 4 months – fake rap group called the Bat Girls. I can’t tell my sons they’d be embarrassed and appalled. It’s like a secret gem in my personal afroQuantum cave…a bizarrely fantastic note in my akashic records. I’m Facebook friends with at least 3 people who may or may not remember this brief episode. I wish I had photos.
I was also a dj in college at CCNY in Harlem, NYC. I had a show called ‘the best of the rest’ and I loved zipping around town meeting A&R people and collecting free music. I loved walking down to the old south building of the campus and sitting alone in the afternoons playing music in whatever antiquated way we had back then to do college radio. It was all before I started writing.
I was also what was called a club kid. On the streets all hours of the night going to clubs. My mother had thrown up her hands – at least I was a good student, right? But it was definitely about the music, even then…
Any case. Hip-hop music, rap, was one of the stable musical influences of what I consider my formative years (and yes, I fully admit to being a late bloomer). I have written two other plays with music…one of them, Magic Kingdom, (formerly titled death of a ho, a fairy scary whorey tale) was a hip-hop-inspired play. Music was co-written by me along with the producing team of Bruce Purse and Prince Charles Alexander.
Before that, I wrote a jazz music play with live music by Hannibal Lokumbe Peterson called Portrait of the Artist as a Soul Man Dead about a young Black artist killed by police.
Hip-hop music, music in general, is still big in my household; my oldest has loved hip-hop since he was a child, and my youngest is on his way to being a talented music producer… in fact, this cat wrote the theme to the afroQuantum Experiences: ArtMaker Talks… It’s fire.
I’ve recently hosted three local music makers on the afroQuantum Experiences: ArtMaker Talks Episode 2 — Nico Sweet, DJ Donnie Luv, and Reese.
I also work with a nonprofit called Pinellas Diaspora Arts Project (PDAP), which has a mission of “Elevating Black and Brown Art & Artists in Tampa Bay” – with a focus on youth arts, artists, and community arts projects. So far, our projects have brought together an eclectic assortment of musicians, djs, academics, artists, and fans.
A few weeks back we had our first evening of The AudioGates Project, a co-presentation of PDAP along with afroQuantum Experiences, deconstructing music from Kendrick Lamar’s new album. It was a very cool evening discussing some heavy topics. The turn-out was great, and people were passionate about the issues brought up in the music. It was a great community engagement event… which is what it was supposed to be.
And that’s because…
Music can do anything.