Seems to me like a nice route through tonight is to begin by catching Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts reading from her new book at the New School [UPDATE: THE NEW SCHOOL IS CLOSED TODAY DUE TO SNOW, READING POSTPONED] and then make our collective way over to Made in Africa — whose special guest DJ, Akwaaba’s BBrave, will stop by next Monday‘s radio show.
It reads, in fact, as if Ms. Rhodes-Pitts had taken W. E. B. Du Bois’s “Souls of Black Folk” and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and spliced them together and remixed them, adding bass, Auto-Tuned vocals, acoustic breaks, samples (street sounds, newsreel snippets, her own whispered confessions) and had rapped over the whole flickering collage. It makes a startling and alive sound, one you cock your head at an angle to hear.
Here’s a breakout jam from my Harlem Is Nowhere mixtape. The beat is an exclusive from Timeblind, low-slung, spacious, holding momenum in one hand and stillness in the other. Sharifa and I read excerpts from the 1941 edition of Rajah Rabo’s 5-Star Mutuel Dream book.
This incredible publication listed pages and pages of things you might see, with accompanying 3-digit lottery numbers to bet on if you saw them. The lottery dream book simultaneously quantifies the mundane and wires it into a complex system of hope and mysticism, all with an eye on the money. Money the only thing that moves around a city faster or more completely than its number runners. Illegal uptown gambling created this fantastic by-product, these lean little snapshots of life on the street. This was Rajah Rabo’s landscape of possibilities. And so we receive a strange vision of what one might have seen, seventy years back. In many ways the quotidian is the rarest of all. The thing that gets lost first. So we read it. So we say it.[audio:https://negrophonic.com/mp3/Harlem-Is-Nowhere-mix_excerpt.mp3]
Last but not least: if you are reading this and own or have access to a yacht, please let me know. We’ll only need to borrow it for a month or two. Thanks!