brit ‘n that: meet zinzi our brit, and her new feature on afropunks across the pond: (premier) afrikan boy
By Sound Check
October 4, 2012
When most people discover AFROPUNK they’re drawn in because they find out that they’re not alone in their love of weird shit. And you’re not alone IN THE WORLD. The diaspora is full of beautiful weirdos and punks just like you, but who’s experiences are different because they come from a corner of the world where they were isolated for completely different reasons. But the AFROPUNK community transcends, because AFROPUNK is a feeling, a world wide community and general ((pos vibes)) for keeping our culture weird! SO MEET ZINZI! The newest member to the AFROPUNK team coming straight otta London-Town. She’s gonna give us the scoop on black punk across the pond every tuesday here on Afropunk.com. This week she’s talking about her new fave, Afrikan Boy, who describes his style as AFROGRIME. The Brits may have sparked punk in the 70s, but the scene has a lot more AFRO in it! Oi!
By: Zinzi Minott, Contributor
My optimism is tentative at the best of times, but this week has tried even my optimism.
I have had one of those weeks where you keep realising you’re the only black person in the room. One of those weeks where you find yourself explaining the complexities of identity. Begrudgingly.
It all started when I woke up full of the joys of autumn to my doorbell, bounced out of bed and opened the door expecting an exciting delivery. Instead, and much to my disappointment I found the Jehovah’s Witness on my doorstep. Face dropped. Usually I would slam the door shut, but keen to start my day with politeness I engaged them, explaining that this particular attempt at conversion would surly fail since I am an atheist. Her face dropped. “A black atheist!” what ensued was a boring and frustrating conversation of me trying to explain that this does happen, that I am ok with this and that cultural heritage is actually not Christian anyways. Her face dropped further. At this point I started to think why the fuck did I open the door, and why am I still here. With no way out, I dropped my final bombshell; “I am an Atheist, Rastafarian-Muslim”. True story.
I almost told her how my parents met but thought better of it. Struggling to hide her confusion and pity or any words that may cleanse me, I left her and her sidekick on my doorstep. Monday. 9am Tuesday I found myself working with a racist performer who deemed it necessary to talk of black men and big dicks in her closing number. And the week went on.
Consequently I have found myself drawn to two types of music. First, soulful escapism from the likes of Tweet and Floetry, taking me back to my teenage years before I truly understood what these women were singing about, but nevertheless felt them, deeply. Second, political artists who wear their oppression on their sleeve, those who talk about identity and their lived experience of the ism’s and skism’s of daily life. These are the folks that I want to talk about in this here column and in particular, right now, one Nigerian Brit who is dealing with identity in his music.
Very rarely do I come across an artist that I am willing to invest in, Afrikan Boy despite his feminist failings, has managed to hook me in this week. His defiant tone, and blunt discussion of race, culture, origin, and heritage has kept me a float this week between my several justifications of self.
Afrikan Boy has been around for a while. He first appeared in 2007 with One day I wen to Lidl, a viral YouTube success receiving over 9 Million hits and counting. The song is a clever homage to being broke, so broke that you find yourself shoplifting from the cheapest supermarket. It’s about immigration and arriving to a country to set up home, looking for safety whilst having the fear of deportation. The song is matter of fact, which is what makes it so clever, with lyrics like, “One day I went to shoplift in Lidl coz I had no money money” coupled with characterisations of security guards the song sums the situation well.
Apart from his lyrical content, what is striking about Afrikan Boy is his individual blend of accented delivery. Bouncing from a “typical” cockney” accent to a “typical” Nigerian accent his bars reference the West African-London diaspora with Afro-Grime, which Afrikan boy described as “African inspired music, with a grime upbringing”. I find this particularly uplifting since its how I experience identity. It was what was so frustrating about Mr and Mrs Jehovah; they didn’t understand the complexities of blackness.
The track that has been feeding me all week is Kunta Kinte, as the title suggest, the song references the 1977 TV series Roots, Afrikan Boy focuses on the protagonist, Kunta Kinte and the infamous scene where he refuses accept his slave name, Toby.
With defiance Afrikan Boy manages to tackle the topic of identity as a Black Brit and all the baggage that it comes with and without being trite, in fact, he is bloody funny saying “ Praise be to Allah, thank Jesus for Obama, you can’t touch this like flipping MC Hammer.”
What is impressive about Afrikan Boys is his courage to discuss racial political issues in the mainstream. While he is not the only one, and his feminist perspective needs work -he is certainly a member of a new generation of British AfroPunk.
Those who no doubt have been inspired by the likes of Skunk Anansie, Roots Manuva and Maxim from Prodigy. They are throwing up political issues and in his case more specifically, racial and cultural issues into the mainstream, unapologetically. For that, I’m down.
All right Darlings, that’s enough from me. Welcome to my column. We’re British, We’re AfroPunk. I’m Zinzi, and I’ll see you next week. Thursday 4th 00.00 Midnight, British Time.
Afrikan Boys new release Amala Azonto (ft. Dotstar) is available Monday 26th November 2012.
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