Camille Blake

Music

afriqua celebrates an electronic juneteenth

June 19, 2019
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Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, long before he started producing electronic tracks under the name Afriqua, Adam Longman Parker was already guided by his musical pursuits. He was playing classical piano — which eventually saw him studying at Michigan’s Interlochen Center for the Arts, then at London’s Royal Academy of Music — and (under the influence of locals like Missy, Timbaland and The Neptunes), he was DJing hip-hop records, becoming good enough to travel to B-Boy competitions. Later in London, under the spell of great clubs such as Plastic People and Fabric, Adam’s twin pursuits began to come together as more house- and techno-oriented melodic compositions, under the Afriqua, which he’s been concentrating on the past few years in Berlin.

The idea of making a track to commemorate Junetenth came naturally to a young Black composer who grew up in Virginia; and Afriqua’s “Jumpteenth” is a wonderful piece of melodic post-techno, sounding like a cross between Sheffield’s classic bleep and Detroit’s future soul. It is a musical celebration, personal yet broad. When asked about Juneteenth as an inspiration, this is what Longman wrote.

For the incredible significance which it holds, Juneteenth is a holiday that passes each year without much fanfare. You would imagine the streets overflowing with ecstatic song and dance, people in celebration of their freedom, unity, and evolution. But for most, it seems to be little more than a name on the calendar marking an event that we all wish was never necessary.

African Americans may deem it unworthy of attention, being all too aware of the continued process of protecting our freedom. For the rest of society, its going unnoticed is largely attributable to simple ignorance, and, sadly but truly, downright animosity in some cases too. In spite of that, though, it seems to me that Juneteenth would easily assume its position as one of the most important days of the year were it to be openly acknowledged for what it really is; the beginning of modern American culture. It’s the real Independence Day.

Too often Black history and culture are exploited when enjoyable and ignored when unpleasant, both at home and abroad. But whether consciously or not, the innumerable people worldwide who daily enjoy the endless cultural contributions of Black people will always be imbibing the unique energy of the Black experience, stemming from all of its interchangeably beautiful and tragic truths and contradictions. Juneteenth is an occasion to celebrate both the liberation of a specific people in a specific country, but also and more importantly the freedom, individualism, and creativity that exploded into the world at large as a result of it. It’s a celebration of our capacity for change, and should be a reminder of how much unexpected beauty can emerge from the better angels of our nature prevailing.

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