black culture flows through steven julien’s “teer”

October 23, 2018
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The primary reason why “Teer,” the new single and video by Steven Julien, is a minor wonder, has to do with how the London electronic producer’s work swims in the ocean of historic Black culture, tying together a few seemingly loose threads that aren’t loose at all.

On the plainest level, Julien’s video, which edits the actual track by half, makes for a dope little travelogue about being in Egypt — sitting in contemplation beneath the pyramids, floating up the Nile towards Cairo. Basically, it’s chill, tourist-y shit, yet much like Julien’s bass’n’synth-heavy London beats, the visual is both colorful enough to present emotional details and lo-fi enough to never seem anything more than a one-man’s journey.

8 Ball by Steven Julien
But it’s not some cheap vacation video. The Giza setting is crucial to understanding where Julien’s “Teer,” named after National Black Theatre founder Barbara Ann Teer, is coming from. It’s Teer’s spoken voice which emerges from behind the drum-machines, delivering a lesson of self-love she used to bestow upon her students; the idea-filled sample is taken from a record called “Black Theatre” (released in 1973), and for Julien as a Black man in the creative field, it seems as foundational as the Pyramids themselves.

To take it one specific Black historical step further, the use of “Black Theatre” is also important to Julien as a dance-music producer because the many nuggets of wisdom contained in Ms. Teer’s nearly 20-minute spoken vocal have graced their fair share of the classic house music cuts and mixes of the 1990’s, none finer than Mood II Swing’s “Do It Your Way.”