The latest edition of our Black de Cool Sun Mix is out now. Sounds by YUNG MORPHEUS! enjoy the sounds of black power.
we have been big admirers of the work of Brooklyn based artist, Sofya Levina for some time now. her strong visual language takes form in many mediums. from animation, painting, embroidery and sculpture Sofya creates a world all her own. we had the pleasure of asking Sofya some questions and learning more about her journey as an artist. a fascinating lady indeed! follow Sofya's instagram to see more of her work and enjoy the interview below.
can you tell us where you are from and how you began your journey as an artist?
I was born and raised in a city called Yekaterinburg on the Asian side of Russia near Kazakhstan. When I was 6 I moved to Kiev in the Ukraine, and then moved to Vermont with my family when I was in middle school. I've always really admired artists, musicians, dancers etc. and drawn little doodles and stuff, but it wasn't until about 2 years ago that I actually had the confidence to start seriously working on my own things. I guess I always felt compelled to express myself in some artistic way, and once I really started focusing and challenging myself I couldn't stop.
we love the visual language that you have established can you speak about some of the mediums you use and your inspirations? i love you that you do collage, animation, painting and embroidery!
Thank you! It definitely did not all come to me at once. Each medium has brought me to the next. Originally, when I decided to started making things I would only draw in Photoshop with an animation pad because I thought I was only going to be animating, and didn't think I was good enough at drawing to actually go out and buy art materials. But I practiced a lot and eventually got over myself and started doodling every day, and then that brought me to painting. That really opened me up to use of color, brush stroke detail, layering. Basically all the things I was doing in Photoshop, just not on the computer. That made me realize that I actually really disliked making things digitally and from that point on I've just been exploring with physical mediums. After painting, animating, and collaging came sculpting, and it's only very recently I started working with fabric and embroidery. Not really sure what drove me to start doing that exactly, but after I started, I learned that my great grandmother was an amazing seamstress who survived alone with her children just sewing for people in a very harsh social climate. She taught my grandmother to sew, who taught my mom, who taught me. It just feels really good to channel my female ancestry like that. I was even fortunate enough to have my mom hand down some embroideries from my great grandmother to me, and I look at them every day and just try to get to her level of skill and precision. I love to imagine what she thought about while she was sewing because the process is a meditation. Russian art and culture are also a huge inspiration to me, especially now that I'm older and can appreciate my birthplace. Also I think that's the reason I use red a lot subconsciously. Other than that, I would say my greatest inspirations are music and nature and just all the things we've been given on this Earth. I'm trying to disconnect myself more and more from the synthetic loops I've been stuck in, and just trying to remember that nothing man made can ever match the beauty and the versatility of the gifts of the Earth, and as a natural part of this planet, I really don't need anything else to inspire me. Of course, I am also inspired by other artists, but at the end of the day I try not to pay too much attention to the work of others because for me successful art comes from the dissociation from the known, and I just try to work slowly towards that every day.
what has been your experience being an abstract woman artist? (if you consider yourself that) what does abstraction mean to you?
I don't know if I would call myself an abstract artist because I really don't think I've honed in on a stylistic idea yet. Like, recently I read this short book Dali made with his friend Philippe Halsman called "Dali's Mustache" and it made me realize that yes, these artist were "surreal" but they didn't become like that because of the way they painted or took photos, they made things that way because that's who they were. The person comes before the art and I don't think I've found myself so concretely yet to say what group I belong to. Abstraction doesn't really mean very much to me anymore just because it sometimes just feels like a synonym people use to say random, or open to interpretation. But you can literally say that about anything that's every been made by someone who considers him/herself an artist. Just the odds that you would be alive to make something in that moment are infinitely small, not to mention that you would make choices to create what it is that you are making. It's a culmination of mindset, time, place, choice, and aesthetic and I think those concepts I try to think about when creating are abstract but not the finished work itself.
you have collaborated with musicians such as pink siifu + yung morph what is your relationship with music and how does music influence your visual art?
Music is my very first love. Since I was born probably. My mom is a piano teacher and back in Russia my dad has a huge record collection so I probably got all of that from them. In my loneliest moments before I had art or anything like that to help me through, I would turn to music religiously and still do. I've been incredibly fortunate to meet people who share my musical tastes and then take it one step further and make the music I like to listen to. It's seriously a blessing and without that I really don't know where I would be today. Working with contemporary musicians who inspire me, I really couldn't ask for anything better. They set my mind right with their work. Music gave me the rhythm to make art and without that I know wouldn't be making anything today.
All images by Sofya Levina.
Interview by Tamara Renée Davidson
our friend saxophonist, composer, and vocalist, María Grand, just released her debut EP TetraWind. we are mesmerized by the sonic experience she has created! we are big fans of her music, and are delighted that we got the chance to ask her some questions about this project. not only is María an amazing musician she is also a brilliant thinker! please enjoy the interview below and cop her new project here!
can you tell us about the journey of this project? where + how were some of these songs born?
Yes! In 2015, I did a few long tours, mostly with Steve Coleman’s band. There were a couple residencies in the United States and a European tour, and after that tour I actually got stuck in Europe because my visa took an extra 30 days to be renewed. So by the end of the year I was pretty exhausted, and I felt a need to get out of New York for a while. I wanted to go somewhere warm to sort of retreat, regroup, reconnect with nature and myself, so I got a ticket for Cartagena, Colombia, and stayed there for a month. During that month I ate a lot of delicious fruit, read, did a lot of research, and composed the music for the EP. It was a way for me to retake control over my life, to pause, after a few years spent in New York completely focused on surviving and the industry’s rat race.
All the music was composed there in Colombia, except for the vocals on North, which I added later - the melody and the lyrics just appeared in my head at some point after we had already finished the session, so I had to overdub vocals on top of the horns.
I decided to compose with the idea of the four paths because I wanted these four directions to reflect an all-around process of healing in my life, after going through a difficult period marked by a lot of emotional abuse. This EP symbolized a liberation and a growing up, and my retaking control over my everyday life.
we love that each song is named after the 4 directions. it is such a powerful stance, and we can feel your connection to the divine mother and your call back to the natural rhythms of life. can you tell us how you came to the name TetraWind? and the significance of this?
I was looking for a title for a long time, because at the time of composing I wasn’t sure if this project was going to be released by itself or combined with another series of compositions. I liked the idea of the "compass rose", but I didn’t want to use the word “rose” in the title, because I’m stubborn and I didn't want to perpetuate any of the typical feminine stereotypes. So finally I decided to just make up a word that contained the idea of the four paths.
The four cardinal points also was related to looking into different meanings of the north and south nodes in astrology. At the same time I was reading about Ancient Egypt and how they associated the West with Death, because that’s where the asters disappear when they rise below the horizon, and the East is (to my knowledge) universally considered a direction of rebirth and newness, which inspired music that would talk about the cycle of life/death/rebirth. In my compositional process, I used different ideas for each of the songs. For East, I improvised the melody on the horn and then created a form from that melody. I composed West in the middle of the night; my mom was sleeping in the same room (she came to visit Colombia) and she was very upset that I started singing and clapping at 2am. North came from a study of triads I was doing, and a desire to mix tonalities in a sort of clash or polytonal feeling. I wrote the ending melody directly on paper, without using a piano; I was trying to get to a more spacious sound. South was just kind of a simple bass line that I built on; the ending was actually composed on the beach. I was with a friend who is very spiritual and very connected to the Earth, and she was doing a ritual for Yemaya a few feet away. I started hearing these progressions in my head, so I grabbed my iPhone and started recording a voice memo. It was really her feeling and the atmosphere on the beach that day that inspired me; the beach was kind of dirty but still beautiful and melancholic, and there was a really special energy to that moment, a kind of nostalgia and dark beauty.
your sonic language through saxophone is very powerful. you are able to be fresh + emotive+ masterful without being alienating and communicating very clearly. what has been your journey to reach this place of sonic communication?
Well first let me say I really appreciate you saying that. To me, it’s just the beginning, there’s so many things I want to work on and improve. I think the main path to learning how to play was through mentors. I studied with some great musicians, either formally or informally; they would show me phrases, give me some ideas, let me know when I was doing something that didn’t sound good, and little by little things kept adding up. It takes a long time to become familiar with a tradition, especially if it’s from a different culture. I don’t come from the United States and I’m not African-American, so it took a lot of learning and a lot of observing to see some of the codes that inform how this music works. I think it’s really important, I mention it all the time, that we keep reiterating that this music is essentially African-American, and to pay tribute and credit to the people who made it and are making it now. This is the community that should be uplifted by this music, both resource-wise and in terms of recognition.
I was lucky because people were willing to teach me and take me through it and also give me a chance to try and fail. So basically, I’m still doing that, trial and error. The main thing in music is ear, whether it’s rhythmic ear, melodic ear. You have to be able to hear things and know where things would fit, how things would sound, before you play them. That’s a life-long work, the ear can always get better. Of course technique and the instrument are important, but knowing musical language and function and being able to hear things are the main ways to express oneself through music. There’s always ways to get better at that, to get to a finer expression, so that the music can come through us in a form that is constantly getting more precise and detailed. All this ties in with clarity of intention and being clear on what the music is aimed towards. The spirit is so important.
who are some of your inspirations?
One of my main inspirations is John Coltrane. I admire his studiousness and his perseverance immensely. He really made a huge contribution, and he changed so many people’s lives, and still does! If you’re having a bad day, you can listen to Crescent or Naima or something else he played and have your whole energy transmuted. I admire that on so many levels, both the spirit that you can hear in his sound, and the technique and knowledge with which he executes things.
Someone else I admire a lot is Henry Threadgill. He’s always working on music, in such a passionate way. One time my friend Román Filiú took me over to Threadgill’s house, and I hadn’t had breakfast. We got there and Henry showed us stuff and he was so passionate, and I was so fascinated, and I stayed there for about three or four hours with the worst hunger I’ve ever felt. He is such a positive character. I admire his music so much, as well as his life, and his personality.
There’s a lot of other people I admire. Sylvie Courvoisier, for example. She’s a master musician, a wonderful composer, and she’s from the town next to mine in Switzerland. I really, really look up to her. Recently I got to go to her house and play a session with her, and I was very intimidated and happy to play with her, because she’s done a lot of the things I want to accomplish in my life. She’s definitely a role model.
I admire people who are positive and who accomplish beautiful things in their lives. It doesn’t have to be music. Anything that helps the world and is done with love.
Of course the main inspiration is Nature. Our Mother, the divine consciousness that formed Earth and the Universe; the Creator of All.
what has been your experience as an avant garde/free jazz woman saxophone player?
Well, as a woman I always feel like I stick out. In certain ways it’s helped me; people usually notice me and they tend to remember me (“oh yea, you’re the girl who played last night”). In a lot of other ways it hinders me, because I’m usually not considered one of the guys. There’s been many situations where this was a problem. This is an industry that isn’t nice to women, and the world isn’t nice to women. A lot of women buy into this and they become patriarchal, too. It’s sad. Thankfully there are also a lot of people who don’t really care if you identify as a woman or a man. They look at people as human beings and not just objects. So I usually try to mostly deal with these people, and when I encounter someone who seeks to diminish me because I’m a woman, I try to be compassionate and remember that if they were satisfied with their lives they wouldn’t feel the need to belittle others. I can also put on my guy cape and become a guy when I have to. It’s kind of fun. But at the end of the day, I have a horn, I have a roof over my head, and I’m healthy. Sexism is not going to deter me, and I have a lot to be grateful for.
we love that you are also singing and reciting poetry on this project, it has created a very fresh and innovative atmosphere. how is your sax playing and lyricism connected and how do they differ?
Well, originally I didn’t think I was going to sing on this recording, but after the session I was missing a human voice. It was easier to sing and say the poetry myself than to hire someone else, because I already knew what I wanted. I always think of the voice as everyone’s first instrument. We’re like martial artists: if you can’t fight with your empty hands, you won’t be able to do much with a sword. So I practice a lot of improvisation on the voice, away from my saxophone. I try to sing what I would play. I learned that from Steve Coleman and Billy Harper, they’re both great at doing that. So I was already familiar with my voice, and I like to write poetry. I wanted to supplement the musical meaning with actual words, to allow the listener to hear another angle as well. Some of it is more abstract, and the last track is more political. I think music can’t be divorced from the times and from whatever is happening socioeconomically at any given moment. It’s really important that conditions change and improve for everyone right now, we need to treat our Earth and each other a lot better. There’s a lot of greed going on, and a few people are holding on to most of the wealth; I’m not sure exactly why we’re letting this happen, but things have to change. Racism is a plague, sexism is a plague. I don’t want my music to be silent on those issues.
foto by Anjna Swaminathan
interview by Tamara Renée Davidson.
on this day of love, which is everyday, enjoy this essay by the goddess Audre Lorde. bless the black mother who has taught us all to love with resilience and all our might. honor those women in your life whose essence and grace have inspired your creativity and nourished your soul.
poetry is not a luxury by Audre Lorde
The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding.
As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.
For each of us as women, there is a dark place within where hidden and growing our true spirit rises, "Beautiful and tough as chestnut/stanchions against our nightmare of weakness" and of impotence.
These places of possibility within ourselves are dark because they are ancient and hidden; they have survived and grown strong through darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling. The woman's place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface; it is dark, it is ancient, and it is deep.
When we view living, in the european mode, only as a problem to be solved, we then rely solely upon our ideas to make us free, for these were what the white fathers told us were precious.
But as we become more in touch with our own ancient, black, non-european view of living as a situation to be experienced and interacted with, we learn more and more to cherish our feelings, and to respect those hidden sources of our power from where true knowledge and therefore lasting action comes.
At this point in time, I believe that women carry within ourselves the possibility for fusion of these two approaches as keystone for survival, and we come closest to this combination in our poetry. I speak here of poetry as the revelation or distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean — in order to cover their desperate wish for imagination without insight.
For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.
Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.
As they become known and accepted to ourselves, our feelings, and the honest exploration of them, become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas, the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have once found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is not idle fantasy, but the true meaning of "it feels right to me." We can train ourselves to respect our feelings, and to discipline (transpose) them into a language that matches those feelings so they can be shared. And where that language does not yet exist, it is our poetry which helps to fashion it. Poetry is not only dream or vision, it is the skeleton architecture of our lives.
Possibility is neither forever nor instant. It is also not easy to sustain belief in its efficacy. We can sometimes work long and hard to establish one beachhead of real resistance to the deaths we are expected to live, only to have that beachhead assaulted or threatened by canards we have been socialized to fear, or by the withdrawal of those approvals that we have been warned to seek for safety. We see ourselves diminished or softened by the falsely benign accusations of childishness, of non-universality, of self-centeredness, of sensuality. And who asks the question: am I altering your aura, your ideas, your dreams, or am I merely moving you to temporary and reactive action? (Even the latter is no mean task, but one that must be rather seen within the context of a true alteration of the texture of our lives.)
The white fathers told us, I think therefore I am; and the black mothers in each of us-the poet-whispers in our dreams, I feel therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary awareness and demand, the implementation of that freedom. However, experience has taught us that the action in the now is also always necessary. Our children cannot dream unless they live, they cannot live unless they are nourished, and who else will feed them the real food without which their dreams will be no different from ours?
Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas still waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves, along with the renewed courage to try them out. And we must constantly encourage ourselves and each other to attempt the heretical actions our dreams imply and some of our old ideas disparage. In the forefront of our move toward change, there is only our poetry to hint at possibility made real. Our poems formulate the implications of ourselves, what we feel within and dare make real (or bring action into accordance with), our fears, our hopes, our most cherished terrors.
For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as we were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets. And there are no new pains. We have felt them all already. We have hidden that fact in the same place where we have hidden our power. They lie in our dreams, and it is our dreams that point the way to freedom. They are made realizable through our poems that give us the strength and courage to see, to feel, to speak, and to dare.
If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is a luxury, then we have given up the core-the fountain-of our power, our womanness; we have give up the future of our worlds.
For there are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt, of examining what our ideas really mean (feel like) on Sunday morning at 7 AM, after brunch, during wild love, making war, giving birth; while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warnings and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while tasting our new possibilities and strengths.
haii snow day! enjoy this hibernation time and watch this brilliant film! (one of my favorites) Claudine! released on april 22nd, 1974 and starring Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones. set in Harlem, Diahann's character, Claudine, a single mother of 6 falls in love with James' character, Rupert. Claudine, who is on welfare, has been married twice and at this point does not believe that she will find love again. plus her welfare check is dependent on her single status, thus if she ever remarries they will cut her government assistance. this very real love story displays the difficulties of single black motherhood, and black love in general.
and to top it all off, the film is scored by the one and only, Curtis Mayfield, and performed by Gladys Knight and The Pips. (it really gets no better than this yall!) the soundtrack is gorgeous! it features a gorgeous remake of the mayfield classic "the makings of you."
please enjoy with a full link to the film below!
happy bearth to the one and only Michael Jackson. We love you! Please enjoy a live version of one of our favorite Jackson 5 songs, "looking through the window," live from paris in 1972. clad in custom suits this video is a true gem. "looking through the window" was written by Chicago born song-writer and actor, Clifton Davis. Clifton also wrote our other favorite Jackson 5 song, "never can say goodbye." What lush arrangements, funky grooves, tight harmonies, all with the heart-wrenching cries of young a Michael Jackson. it is truly genius song writing and performing. what a a pleasure to see the whole clan perform together. it is eternal. so pure. true american folklore.
more from the performance below!
The Jackson 5 live from Mexico in 1975!
After a year of studying performance rendered in animation, artist ivan forde has selected and complied these short vignettes in which we bare witness to cosmic events of creation versus destruction in all out combat. "In the Half-Between world" takes its name from a poem by jazz musician Sun Ra. Collaborating with Philadelphia native producer Absent Avery to arrange the score, the musician sampled Mr. Ra's "Thats how i feel" from the 1978 record, Lanquidity.
There would be no Prince, Madonna, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis (in the 1970’s), or Lil Kim, if it weren’t for Betty Davis and her explosive, courageous, erotic, gender bending, bluesy, and funky music. Betty’s voice purrs, growls, and scratches through her deliciously written lyrics. A blues woman to the bone, Betty took her southern roots, and mixed them with raw funk, soul, and psychedelic rock. A woman well ahead of her time, she pushed boundaries with her avant-garde fashion sense, amazing afro, and provocative lyrics.
She was born in 1945 in Durham, North Carolina with the maiden name Mabry. A true southern gal, Betty grew up on her grandmother’s farm, where she woke up every morning to slop the hogs, with the blues, ham hocks, and black-eye-peas all in her veins. Her grandmother had a vast collection of blues records so at an early age Betty become influenced by the heavy blues sounds of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, BB King, Lightning Hopkins, and Big Mama Thorton. Betty wrote her first song when she was twelve, aptly titled “I’m Gonna Bake That Cake of Love.”
In her teenage years her father got a job as a foreman on a steel mill in an industrial town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her family moved and she got her first dose of city life. While a teenager in Pittsburgh she was an introvert, writing songs and sketching clothing designs. Betty moved to New York City when she was sixteen to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She became emerged in the fashion world as a budding designer and a successful model, gracing the covers of Seventeen, Ebony, and Glamour. The gorgeous young woman enjoyed the easy money she earned from modeling but song-writing was always her true passion.
In 1966 when Betty was 21 she went to the East Village night club, Electric Circus, where the Chamber Brothers were performing and presented them with a song she wrote, “Uptown in Harlem.” An anthem for the black Mecca of the world, the song chants “I’m going uptown to Harlem/I’m gonna let my hair down in Harlem/If a taxi won’t take me I’ll catch a train/I’ll go underground I’ll get there just the same.” A simple yet political song that speaks of joys and troubles that still affect us to this day. The Chamber Brothers included “Uptown in Harlem” in their 1967 album, Time Has Come.
Davis also wrote songs for the Commodores who needed her keen lyricism. The songs she wrote helped them get signed to Motown. Betty was beginning to make her mark as a phenomenal lyricist for some of the premier funk, soul, and rock acts of the ’60s.
22 year old Betty met brilliant trumpeter and bandleader Miles Davis who was almost twice her age. Miles could not resist the undeniable coolness that Betty exuded, so he had to know her. The steamy pair married in 1969 only after a year of knowing each other. By this time Betty had already graced the cover of Miles’s 1968 album, Filles de Killimanjaro. “Mademoiselle Mabry” served as Miles’s muse as well as a very influential musician in his life. During the pivotal two years they were together, Betty introduced Miles to the sounds of her good friend Jimi Hendrix, who middle aged Miles was not hip to. Inspired by the sounds of the younger generation Miles decided to push his music to uncharted territory, and thus spawned “jazz fusion.” Miles completely reinvented himself and released the ground breaking album Bitches Brew in 1970, which Betty also helped name.
Betty was supposedly too wild for Miles and their relationship strained. They divorced in 1969 with allegations that Betty and Jimii Hendrix had an affair. Amongst the turmoil and allegations Betty and Miles Davis served as one of the most influential musical couples of the twentieth century. The year following her divorce with Miles, Jimi Hendrix died, and Betty lost one of the most influential musicians in her life.
Though Betty never thought of herself as a performer, that is what she became after the release of her self titled album released in 1973. 28 year old Davis collaborated with Greg Errico, Sly Stone’s drummer to produce the album. Errico assembled the best funk and soul musicians on the West Cost. The cast included Sly Stone’s bassist Larry Graham, guitarist Neal Schon of Santana, the Pointer Sisters on background vocals, and members of Graham Central Station and Tower of Power on drums and horns. The songs on the album were based on funk grooves, bluesy guitar riffs, gritty percussion and Betty’s raunchy lyrics and vocal sass. Songs off the album include “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up,” “Anti-Love Song” and “Your Man My Man.” Betty was undeniably bold, possessing sexual agency through her lyrics that revealed her sexual desires, the cruel side to love and the experience of extra marital affairs.
She went on to produce, write, and arrange, her second and third albums, They Say I'm Different and Nasty Gal in 1974 and 1975 respectively. These albums continue her provocative word play, raunchy lyrics, and kitten like pur. With scandalous songs like, "He was a Big Freak" where she describes how she use to "beat him with a turquoise chain." Davis paved the way for performers who wanted to express their sexuality in their music in creative, daring, and honest ways- the foremother of the brazen lady mc. A true wild woman. Davis never achieved commercial success, was highly criticized for her lyrical content, and was banned from radio stations. She stopped releasing music after 1975 and has been living out of the public eye in Pennsylvania since. Despite her musical genius and overall impact on funk music and fusion, Betty Davis still passes the radar of many music fans. Well before music videos Betty created a personal for herself so that her image and music seamlessly coincided, creating an unforgettable vision and sound of the 1970s.
written by Tamara Davidson
originally published on revive-music.com in 2011.
we are utterly inspired by the fiercely feminine and androgynous presence of the beautiful, Nicaraguan born former actress and now human rights activist, Bianca Jagger. she is able to kill it in a suit or a long dress as she is unabashedly herself. please enjoy some of our favorite images of her as she is effortlessly fashionable exuding vulnerability and strength within each foto.
Enjoy this delicious poem about the sugar dimez of Harlem. By the one and only Langston Hughes.
Juke Box Love Song
I could take the Harlem night
and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,
Take the Lenox Avenue busses,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem's heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play,
Dance with you till day—
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.
"lone me your funky mind cause nothing is good unless you play with it and all that is good is nasty."
a visual excursion through funkadelic album art.
we are a huge fan of scholar Robert Farris Thompson. author of seminal books such as Flash of the Spirit and The Aesthetics of the Cool. one of the worlds most renowned scholars on african diasporic spirituality and the arts. find a lovely quote below from the book The Aesthetics of the Cool. James Brown exemplifies black cool as a performer. if you get a chance also check out the hbo documentary on james brown, Mr. Dynamite The Rise of James Brown.
in april i attended the afrofuturism film festival at BAM. i had the pleasure of viewing a once in a life time screening of the series, Cosmic Slop. called a "multicultural twilight zone,"the trilogy was created by Reginald Hudlin and executive produced by Reginald and his brother Warrington Hudlin. Reginald was also the director of House Party and Boomerang. the triology aired on HBO in 1994, hosted by George Clinton it borrows it's title from the 1973 Funkadelic album. unfortunately after the pilot season was aired HBO received death threats concerning the radical topics covered in the series including racism, catholicism, african spirituality, and domestic violence. HBO was force to stop the airing of the series and it was eventually banned. because of this it is very rare to be able to view the trilogy in its entirety! viewing the series in 2015 i can say that it was light years ahead of its time! there is nothing like this on tv now and i don't think there has ever been. i can see why it was banned! its honesty, accuracy, and creativity, created a truly masterful piece of work. it is a shame that more people are not able to see it.
luckily the first part of the trilogy entitled, Space Traders, based off the short story written by Derrick Bell is available on youtube. the premise of the story is that aliens come to the earth and essentially promise world peace and a solution to poverty and hunger in exchange for all black people on earth. the aliens do not say what they will do with the black people, but they just ask for every human with melanin. you can imagine the the raucous this stirs! it is a really an incredible story, transformative, uncomfortable, painful, and also rather humorous to watch this episode.
please watch below! comments are encouraged! this is a really great conversation starter. if you are interested in reading the short story, Space Traders written by Derrick Bell you can find the pdf here. also if anyone is interested in collaborating in putting on a screening of this please email email@example.com
below find excerpts from poems from Sun Ra's poetry book This Planet is Doomed.
"the player sat in space as all players do.."
space age needs
there must be a cosmic
dimension of music
which is attuned
to the space-age needs
of the rulers
as well as the peoples of the earth.
angels & demons
my music sings of the discipline of the depths
and darkness of space as matter
and matter of outer space as tone, and it
relates-reaches through the void to stars
beyond the places of thought-worlds
touch the stars
at night I sleep my sleep
and dream my dreams
reach into the darkness
and touch the stars
place them in new places
where I would have them
pattern them into another design
of another tomorrow's destiny
I am an instrument
I am an instrument
the timbre of my voice flies with the winds of heaven
I belong to the one who is more than a musician
he is an artist
I live to be his pleasure,
I do not flee from him when he comes to me
for instrument are not sufficient in themselves
they are old and lifeless without tortured hands and mind
the artist holds myself tenderly in his hands
first he touches the strings of my heart
too fine to be in tune with the universe
then suddenly vibrant thoughts strikes there
and music from the world of time and space is born
I am strange
I am strange
my mind is tinted with the colors of madness
they fight in silent furor in the effort to dissolve each other
I am strange
I have a potent degree of love that is so unwise
in one world that it is wisdom in another
I am strange
I no longer have respect for hate
for I am stronger than hate...
collages by Tamara Renée Davidson
June | Tarotscopes
June’s Theme I 3 of Pentacles
Work. Collaboration. Innovation. Development. Community. Teamwork. Partnership. Creativity. June is the month of all this and more. We are facing a month of great changes in almost all areas of our lives but only to be met with much success and happiness after the transition occurs. The best advice is to hang on tight and to allow the wave to ride itself out. Much of our external world cannot be trusted and you should not look toward anyone to make decisions for you. You are required to search within and to finally listen to your own wisdom and desires. Parts of your past will be resurfacing and it is up to you to distinguish what is to be recycled and reused, and what is to be eliminated once and for all. When you are done sorting your piles, don’t look back and continue building forward. The next 6 months are life-changing and quite radical for you. I can assure you that you will never be the same. There is an importance on self-sufficiency and developing your own tribe of individuals whom can support each other and carry on a great network system. Competition will not work in this new system, everyone will be expected to share their knowledge and love with one another but take full accountability in their lives. Be honest and kind with those that you encounter and stay open to your own personal signs that indicate a deeper meaning/mystery to life that will cause you to be receptive in ways you could not imagine.
Virgo I Page of Wands, 3 of Wands, Kings of Swords
June lends itself to be quite the adventurous month, heavy with positive energy, forward momentum and much gusto on your part. It’s as if you have awakened from a deep slumber because you are truly feeling yourself and all of your potential this month and the universe will reflect that back at you in so many ways so stay humble, grounded in purpose and woke. The Page of Wands carries the energy of traveling from one location to the next; the way i see it, Virgos, is that you are elevating in various areas of your life during this month. Anything that has been stalled for you, you will notice a shift and change in it progressing towards better results. Be it love, finances, your career, personal pursuits, it is important that you maintain that laser focus on what you want out of these sectors.. What do YOU want? Bear that in mind in June because the pages are turning to reveal exactly what you desire & it is up to you to clean up the edges and ensure things look exactly how you want them to be. You are leveling up in life, an exciting time that we have not seen in awhile, rejoice in your work but do not relax just yet! The 3 of Wands is the continuation of your past work. Some major projects, goals and intentions are actualized this month, only to leave you wondering what your next big move will be. You may just shock those around you with a great profound revelation, or a spontaneous decision on your part. This comes out of the blue, but is not as farfetched as it may sound because it does indeed align itself with your other expectations and desires out of life. Whatever it may be, it seems like you are laying down the tracks for how your life will be 5-10 years from now, so it is HUGE!! The King of Swords requires that in the midst of your excitement and fiery action, that you still maintain some logic and reason in your decisions. Balance your mind and your heart and trust your instinct when it comes to other relationships you have with individuals; be as honest, open & straightforward as possible. With such success, this is not the time to beat around the bush or have others play games. The King of Swords aces communication and may solidify an important negotiation, contract or future deal to operate with a big group of people. Whether this is initiated by your own creative endeavors or it is proposed to you, do not shy away from what you feel you deserve & the role you want to play in this project. The world is yours right now.
Aries I 5 of Wands, Magician, Strength
There is a sense of liberation that June will bring you. The 5 of Wands gives me the inclination that you have been battling bouts of inner resistance or second guessing your own nature which has caused you some discord and conflict. You need to trust that you are much wiser & perceptive than you believe, sometimes the evidence for this is not readily available; a test in faith will deliver your answers to you. In the past there has been a great deal of comparison that you’ve observed, perhaps you have been highly introspective about areas of your life and aspects of yourself that you have felt the need to size up your journey & being with others whom are celebrating small successes. You might have wondered what is taking you so long to catch up. Life is not a competition, everyone has their own individual path to experience & lessons to learn along the way. Aries, you are in store for great thing that you can barely imagine! In fact, this month you make the conscious decision to offer yourself tough love and move yourself ahead of the game. Focus on yourself! No one is living your life but you & you halter your progress by giving your energy to someone else’s game. The 5 of Wands tells me that you are willing to fight to conquer and drown your demons. You have a clearer perspective on your priorities & how you choose to spend your time & thoughts. Every moment is too precocious for you to squander it on comparison. The Magician tells me that in June, you will be putting yourself on the throne. No more excuses, you come into alignment with your personal power and will, demonstrating that no only to yourself but to the world around you. Anything that you claim will be actualized; be mindful of what you intend to take action on & use your energy efficiently. It would not surprise me if people came up to you wondering what your magic formula is for inducing such a drastic change inside of you; it was bound to happen sooner or later, you just had to come to terms with slow & steady progress. Important lessons from the past will keep you alert this month, allowing you to stay humble & proud of how far you’ve gone. This is such a giant leap for you because you have been known to jump to conclusions & formulate false assumptions before observing all the details first. This is about respecting your spiritual & mental health as a priority. You feel more solid and ready to conquer your goals; your amount of self-respect and honor will fly through the roof!
Libra I 9 of Swords, 9 of Pentacles, 10 of Pentacles
The 9 of Swords points that you will be dealing with internal conflict or have been for quite some time. This card always advices others to let loose and be more relaxed, as this is not as serious as it seems. You may have a lot on your plate but if you intend to tackle it on with ease and grace with the assistance of the universe, it makes a great difference in your life. In order to let go, be mindful of the quality of thoughts you are thinking. The 9 of Swords is heavy with repetitive thoughts, evaluating, assessing and planning. There is much responsibility called from you that involves calculating finances and other individuals involved in projects that the wise thing would be to be pro-active regarding your next move. An overburden of responsibility is actually a blessing in disguise. Be careful what you wish for, what you have been working toward is coming in major bulks and it is up to your analytical mind to organize it all. The 9 of Swords forewarns against inefficient and wasteful thinking, especially when it is targeted towards the self. Set out a time to evaluate your next move in life and accomplish some insight during that time to prevent from being obsessed with the same thing. Get your answers and move on, this is not the month to waste time. Balance this reality with a dose of the 9 of Pentacles’ energy, self-care, luxury & abundance. June will bring out the vanity in you, this responsibility allows you to be a valued leader and will propel you toward recognition in some aspect. It is an excellent time to socialize and flaunt your magic. You will be called into the spotlight to express your new project or connect with new and influential people in the same area. This is a release from recent pressure, although it does seem like an aspect of your work regardless of the fun. The 9 of Pentacles is then followed by the 10 of Pentacles, which both rule the material realm. This is excellent news for you energetically; it denotes a stronger sense of purpose, a solid foundation and gradual momentum. The sense of perfect timing is obvious and your psychic abilities are heightened during this time! Whatever you have been doing to cause this success, make sure you know what it is so that you can replicate it. You will be surrounded by very loving individuals & new spirits whom can help you along the way. If you are in a love affair or desire to be in one, this influence proves to be very spicy and loving for you; much admiration is shared so bask in the positive vibes. An increase in finances is also noted this month, perhaps towards the middle into the end of June. The 10 of Pentacles reveals that you are comfortable in your charm and can lead/dictate others to bid your will. This is most likely to be used in a creative project, you may gather a group for a passionate cause or throw a grand celebration of sorts that has a business element to it. The 10 of Pentacles is about teamwork and partnership; it is serious, so your inspiration to collaborate with others will have a great growth span and impact into your future.
Scorpio I 10 of Wands, 3 of Cups, The World
The 10 of Wands is the exertion you are emitting from forcing aspects of your life into place. Whenever i see this card, I am reminded of how I can be a control freak and want to micro-manage all the elements of my life until they end up in the right place but that is not how things work, Scorpio. The final push to the end of a project or a time of great void, the 10 of Wands indicates that you are going about a harder way than you should. This is the card that promotes efficiency and ease. By carrying all these sticks of action, you are placing more pressure on yourself than need be. Relax and ease into your future with a knowingness that everything is falling into it place organically, as it should. This can also represent a fear of change, something major is shifting around you & you may not know how to go with the flow but it is important to just release resistance and allow the wave to carry you to your next destination. It will be a very beautiful outcome. The 3 of Cups is all about celebration! The weather is warmer, you are feeling highly of yourself and of your potential and this is about a reunion or a strong connection/bond on the horizon that will help you to shift your perspective and lighten up your load tremendously. The 3 of Cups brings an abundance of feminine energy, whether or not you are a male or female or both, you will be surrounded by an abundance of love, flirtation and excitement. Bask in these positive vibes because they will rejuvenate you and show that life is to be cherished and enjoyed in every moment. You are beginning to learn more deeply about pleasure and how to attain it from your everyday actions. This is a spiritual lesson that will radically change your life. A side of you has been drained from the trivial pursuit of work, finances & status, allow June to expose to you a new way of living and accept what comes with open arms. The World is a card that predicts just that, open possibilities! You have mentally thrown around some options that can shift your direction of life in ways that others would not see coming. This is a wilder more carefree side to yourself that you are gaining comfort in and are ready to show the world. Maybe it is because you simply don’t care for the opinions of others and you are placing your needs above everyone else, the World emphasizes your personal experience on this plane and also places great responsibility on you to ensure that you can deliver for yourself. This is a great realization that you have and can signify the end to an old chapter in your life, a spiritual graduation. You have leveled up and have enough wisdom in your disposal to navigate yourself successfully through your next cycle. This card also denote a wide influence of power that you yield, you may feel strongly towards giving back to your community or impacting the world with your vision. Utilize the month of June to advance on these dreams and create a blueprint that you can take action on.
Aquarius I Hierophant, 4 of Wands, Emperor
This is a powerful month for you Aquarius, you are surrounded by much masculine energy that is inspiring you to laser down your focus and race ahead of the game. The Hierophant is all about internal structure and organization; getting down to the details of what you intend to do in this life, what you desire to feel like and the effect that you will have on others. Your influence is potent and you may want to seek various mediums to express your point of view, regardless of what that is, many resonate with it and you just may create a cult following because you immolate a deep truth that resides in many, which has been forgotten or ignored. June is spent cultivating your own inner voice and following through with that higher being. There is no separation between your higher self and your everyday self & you finally realize this, making you a full force of wisdom. People will gravitate to your clarity and joy that you bring but you also deal with a sense of detachment from the mundane world that allows you to be grounded yet otherworldly. The 4 of Wands is attaining that balance and finally learning how to manage life by staying grounded. This is a huge project that has been marinating inside of you, a renovation of your inner being and external environment. You feel the need to clean, re-decorate or throw out items from your personal space in order to make room for this new identity that you are developing into. This card can also represent a marriage with the self, where you make an agreement never to compromise a way of being, or to go back into the past where you lose a sense of self that makes you feel powerless. You are channeling amazing insight and will be gaining much clarity over your past actions regarding the individuals that have or had surrounded you at one point. You are the company that you keep & karmicallly it is time for a level up, so June is providing opportunity to forgive and move on or to build upon relationships and to gain a broader knowledge of self. The Emperor is that element of yourself that need to feel validated, appreciated and desired. It brings out elements of ourselves that crave to be the authoritative figure amongst our peers but also reflects upon us our relationship with authority and our father figures. Your connection to your father will play a vital role in comprehending your relationships with others and how you choose to project yourself in life. It is important to decipher this connection for your own healing and personal growth. From this, you can be sure to organize yourself and your perspective by knowing where your motives stem from.
Gemini I Knight of Pentacles, Queen of Rods, Hierophant
You are filled with ambition and courage this month, Gemini. It’s as if, a new page has turned and you’ve gained a new perspective on your fears and limitations because you are not allowing anything or anyone to hold you back. The Knight of Pentacles is well protected and blessed with enough vision and will power to see through any journey, from start to finish. You are extremely focused and motivated towards a cause or potentially causes that appeal to your heart. A routine that you decide to develop this month, proves itself to be efficient and successful in your pursuits. It is important for you to not take large risks this month but to move slowly with calculated moves where you can see results occurring for you. This gives you the confidence to continue on with your dreams and the encouragement to know that you are heading in the right direction. Stay true to your dreams and your commitments and don’t be afraid to let loose once in awhile. The Queen of Rods encourages you to shake things up in your life. It is time to live more spontaneously and to surprise not only yourself but those around you. The Knight of Pentacles indicates consistency within our foundations (home, finances, career, family, friends, etc) but all other areas require much creativity and playfulness in order to balance out the whole picture. Don’t take things so seriously, most of the time what you perceive has nothing to do with you but with others people’s perceptions of themselves or quite possibly their projections. By living large, you break the cycle of inner thought and excessive brain activity. In June, you are living for yourself and gaining much from your flamboyant experiences. Many will want to join you for a good time. Under the influence of the Queen of Rods, you gain a Hierophant type of image and personality. This means that you appear larger-than-life this month, with much profound wisdom echoing from your mouth and memorable presence. People will remember you for how you made them feel and your ability to heal them by inadvertently doing so. Not only will you find yourself making advanced moves in your career front but you are to be recognized as a charming extrovert with the ability to get their way. Work your magic for good this month & you will reap the rewards later this year.
Capricorn I 9 of Cups, Queen of Cups, 3 of Cups
Things are manifesting for you at the speed of light that it could be challenging for you to keep up but they are all essentially miniature version of your dreams that indicate bigger things are around the corner for you. June gets you excited for your future and you can expect to receive an abundance of great news in regards of your personal investments and how you have been spending your time. This excellent, as you are known to daydream and fantasize about your future rather than being pro-active & fire oriented. The 9 of Cups inspires you to dream big and think large; what you have set out to accomplish is being actualized little-by-little, so go above & beyond what you think you can achieve. The influence of this card can denote an auspicious energy around you which seems like the midas touch, whatever you decide to adventure on has a successful quality to it, leaving you fulfilled on all levels. The Queen of Cups brings you a high romantic quality this month, the energy is filled with hope and potential new beginnings. If you are already involved, this is symbolic of a purity in your relationship that reminds you of how things were when you first began. There is an immense amount of playfulness that surrounds this love quality and you are a flirtatious magnet for what you want to attract. If you are single, have fun with this influence. The universe is brining this opportunity along so you can pick and choose your desired experiences and get a chance to know this refreshing side of yourself but remain grounded and honest with your expectations so that no one falls too deeply under your charm. The 3 of Cups picks up on this vibes and tells us that there is much to celebrate and many social events to be involved in. Why not multi-task and make yourself be known by networking an celebrating yourself. If you have an agenda in mind, it can most definitely be accomplished by the help of individuals in positions of power. You are strategically placed the month in random situations that can benefit you highly if you come about it from an angle of advantage. What is my purpose here? Who am I supposed to meet? Who am I supposed to help? These are questions that can help weed out distractions and get you straight to the point. By narrowing down your focus, you’ll reap more of the rewards that you are so greatly surrounded by.
Leo I Wheel of Fortune, Hierophant, The Moon
Hang on tight Leo, the roller coaster of chaos is not over yet! June continues to provide some intense experiences for you brought by the Wheel of Fortune as it has for the past couple of months. Trust that this is the universe’s way of revealing what needs to be seen by you, pay attention! Patterns, subconscious habits, personal belief systems and blockages are being flown at your face so that you can acknowledge what needs to be adjusted and changed in order to operate as the best you possible. Projections from other individuals are strong, what you find to dislike or like in others is revealing something inside of yourself that needs attention. There is much to learn from the past couple of months and karmically, you will be getting a break from the perpetual changes, not in a literal sense but a mental one. You finally grasp that you are not in control and the best way to cope with the situation at hand is to ride the wave and see where it takes you. The Hierophant ensures much spiritual development during this time. You will be gaining massive clarity over your purpose and functionality in the world. A great “aha” moment is in store when you have a heart to heart with a distant friend or someone who hold great importance in your past. Your understanding of old parts of yourself enables you to be more compassionate with the “younger” you. There is a sense of nostalgia and the need to retrace your steps to understand the “bigger picture” with your decision making process. Are you aware of the way you operate in life? The Moon will heighten all your hidden shadows and innermost feelings this month, allowing you to heal from some trauma that has kept you at bay. It’s best not to avoid or fight the feelings because there is much wisdom stored in them. You want to make sense out of these revelations and allow them to be fully felt so that they don’t come knocking at your door at an inconvenient time in the future. The Moon recommends that you engage in more spiritually sound activities, although June will be packed with much action, you are reminded to spend time alone performing your own personal ritual whatever that may be. You are keeping something really valuable from yourself that could be the key to all your questions and limitations. In order to discover this secret, stillness and silence are required to dig deep and excavate your spirit’s messages. Write, sing, dance, walk through nature, spend time with children, talk to your elders, participate in humanitarian work, meditate… there are a myriad of ways for you to cultivate your intuition and to discover what you are keeping from you. June is the month to make a new commitment to yourself. Once you discover what you’d like that to be, make sure you honor it.
Sagittarius I Strength, 5 of Wands, Temperance
It’s time to slow down and be a bit more deliberate in speech and action. The Strength card represents a nurturing side to yourself that is in development; you are capable of tending to your own needs more without getting into a panic or anxiety frenzy. It is the analytical side to you that is balanced with the need to always perform and accomplish tasks. June is the month where you are able to release the pedal gain perspective on the more important things in life. You will find yourself spending more time with family & friends, investing time in doing things that really matter, where you can serve others and help others in some way. You are a rock for many individuals around you, providing them sound advice from your personal experience. This element to you can also put you in an authoritative position whether its in your career or other aspect of your life. Because you tend to not put things off, people rely on you to get the job done or to communicate with tact and honesty. It is important for you to clear out any heaviness that you may feel inside, as you are encountering many different energies that can clog your own. The 5 of Wands tells me that there might be some applied pressure on your end. The irony is that you personally don’t like to beat around the bush, yet there seems to be something that you are avoiding within yourself. Be it a decision, a conclusion or a realization that you rather not analyze, you will have to face this head on sooner or later. This card can indicate self-doubt or energy that you are projecting towards yourself. If you think you are not ready for the next step, you are. Pay close attention to what your soul & spirit are telling you. The Temperance is all about divine timing and taking the next step when you feel it is right in your heart. Chances are, you already know what that next step is and either you are stalling or waiting for someone to make that move/decision for you. You have a clear purpose in this life and without making that move, the rest of your puzzle pieces will not be complete. This is the catalyst for positive change in your life, as frightening or painful as it may be, you are divinely supported by invisible forces that are rooting for you. Make that move.
Pisces I 10 of Pentacles, 6 of Swords, 4 of Pentacles
There is a need for immense bonding, for your voice to be heard and acknowledged and to gather individuals for a cause that you highly passionate about. The 10 of Pentacles is a massive gathering that is to occur in June where you play a pivotal role. This event will bring you a plethora of ideas that motivate you to shift things around in your home life and/or personal life. You make a final decision with a spontaneous fantasy that you have been playing repetitively in your head for sometime. It seems like many other people also are supportive of you in this choice but you may not feel inclined to reveal your motives all at once. It is best to disclose your ideas to maybe two people, tops… that is until you have everything locked int its place. What you are involved in, is a serious commitment in one form or another and may take years to formalize. it could very much be a new move, or a drastic shift in education/career or the decision to give birth (in either the literal or figurative sense). You are in a highly creative mode and are fertile with possibilities and love that you want to be a part of every little thing. There is only so much that you can do, Pisces, so take heed on what is most important to you and participate in your own personal cleansing. The 6 of Swords indicates the desire to be separated from an idea or possibly items or individuals in your life. Your spirit is leaning towards more harmony, unity and happiness and there are certain components around you that are not conducive to that vibe or lifestyle. In attempts to get where you want to go & be, there is much spring cleaning involved. Donate items, forgive individuals, revisit the past and learn what it was meant to teach you & move forward without looking back. The 4 of Pentacles indicates the desire to save and to harvest great thoughts and potentially money. You are building a big nest for the future and will do anything you can to ensure that it is undisturbed and stable. Assuming that you are rebuilding from where the 6 of Swords left off, be selective with whom you choose to spend your time and energy with. You deserve the best and thus only the best energy and intentions should surround you. Keep your guard up in terms of your spending habits and the influence of those close to you. This may require a little bit of isolation but it is important to get your internal state solid and secure before you start paying attention to the consultation of others. Your words and your intuition is golden this month. Stick to your gut and continue building up that prosperity wealth.
Taurus I 4 of Wands, Death, 10 of Cups
There is so much to learn and to absorb from around you as shown by the 4 of Wands. You may be inspired to travel and whether that is near or far, the experience will provide life-changing clarity. June has you celebrating who you truly are, that means no comparison or competition with others. It is time that this finally settled in. You are living in a care-free mind, observing the habits and opinions of others and deciphering how you have come to develop your own. This is almost a psychedelic influence that occurred in an organic nature. The wise individual that you’ve known yourself to be has finally caught up with the rest of you. You are able to walk the talk and take permission from no-one, from here on in, you pave your own way. Boundaries are affirmed and you have your own personal set of codes/laws that you abide by to ensure that you stay afloat, balanced and peaceful. You find popular culture to be trivial and may even discover yourself to be quite bored, which inspires you to seek out different outlets of expression. Don’t be surprised if you take up new philosophies, hobbies or a lifestyle that is inherently more radical than what most practice or seek. This is a rebellious stage for you but a safe one at that. You are coming to terms with Death, and the reality that it may be encountered at any moment so living life fearlessly and with gratitude and adventure is of the utmost importance to you. There is great internal change happening inside of you that requires you to consult your inner child. This process is very unfamiliar to some and may be awkward but our inner child never dies, we just adapt to a more magic-less overburdened way of being. Any pain or fear you are encountering should be address with open arms and a curiosity to discover its roots. There is a big chance that you will overcome a childhood fear or worry that has lingered on til this day. Working on yourself, in terms of wanting to strive to be a better individual on all platforms will bring you many rewards in June. The 10 of Cups will reveal to you that by living a relax and comforted life, you become a magnet to incredible opportunity and experiences that your heart has always desired. You must want this change, Taurus. At times there could be aspects of you where you are confounded by the frustration and challenged that life brings you but what you do not realize is that you subconsciously thrive for the struggle. Once again, something in your childhood is in relation to this pattern, so dig in deep and see what you can find. There is magic in store for you on all levels from here on in. You reach a level of maturity where you are comfortable in helping yourself, no excuses or complaints delivered. The 10 of Cups will ensure that you are met with open arms and a bright future.
Cancer I Emperor, Temperance, King of Rods
June is an aggressive month for you, you feel the call to take on more responsibility and action in your career and personal life because of the Emperor’s influence. These past months you’ve been performing at bare minimum but for some reason you are inspired to go above and beyond and surpass the authoritative figures around you. This may call for some distant studying, observing and learning from those who have been and are successful, taking notes and analyzing where we can follow suit. There is quite the paternal vibe echoing through this month and you are very much so reminded of your father in some ways. Perhaps you have a quality of his that can help you thrive and will be needing to bring that out into the forefront. If you feel the inclination to do so, honor this feeling in whichever way you are inspired to take action. The aggression encountered in June is more with the self than it is with those in opposition to you. Prepared to be tested in your ideas and desires. If you are ambitious with money, then make sure you know how to handle large amount of it or clientele. You will have your hands busy so knowing how to keep your center and perspective will help a great deal. The Temperance warns you to stay level headed, everyone is operating in their own level of consciousness and there is nothing you can do about that but either offer your best advice if needed or lead by example. Try not to get too tyrannical, be it in your relationships or career; people can feel your energy even if unspoken and will attempt to avoid your tornado path at all costs. Your job is to be efficient in every moment, in every task and to unite your mind and your intention to get things done. A great deal of success can be manifested as a result of your first week of work done in June. Do not put things off until last or another person will gladly take the opportunity to outshine your efforts. The King of Rods shows me that you are not playing games this month! You want what is yours and will do anything to advance. Be open to the suggestions of other people but trust your intuition when something does not feel sound. This card can indicate distant travel as well, and could be the need for a vacation but i am uncertain if you will be wanting to take that break. You are so swift and cunning in your actions that most will be amazed at your progress towards the end of the year. There is a definite time for honor and recognition in the near future, but use this month to make the right moves and to leap 10 steps ahead. Be mindful of your stress levels and eating habits, as your momentum may cause some health concerns.
By Tatianna Tarot
we are pleased to feature the amazing artwork of our dear friend Tulsi Maya. these images are from her COPS! series under her moniker "prettywhores." Tulsi describes prettywhores as "the darling & the dirty". Tulsi is an Australian artist who "vomits up futuristic nostalgia." she is quite prolific and diverse in her imagery. The COPS! series stroke me particularly because it tackles the prevalent issue of police brutality which Tulsi describes,"as a new form of genocide against people of color." and indeed she is absolutely right. this week alone we have seen police harassment against peaceful teens in Texas and the suicide of our black angel, Kalief Browder. Tulsi uses archival black and white images of police harassment and integrates surrealism and fantasy with her illustrations. the police officers become literal monsters with tentacles, horns, and ghoulish eyes. we are a big fan of fantasy, surrealism, and science fiction at black de cool sun, because it offers us ways to push the boundaries of the way we look at our reality. Please check out the work below.
Goddes Nikki Giovanni's bearth was on June 7th! Happy Bearth to the Gemini Queen. Find one of my favorite love poems by her below.
I Wrote A Good Omelet
I wrote a good omelet...and ate
a hot poem... after loving you
Buttoned my car...and drove my
coat home...in the rain...
after loving you
I goed on red...and stopped on
green...floating somewhere in between...
being here and being there...
after loving you
I rolled my bed...turned down
confused but...I don't care...
Laid out my teeth...and gargled my
gown...then I stood
...and laid me down...
after loving you
The Wiz: A Masterpiece
The Wiz was a staple in my childhood. i remember watching it over and over again at sleepovers with my neighbors. i am so grateful and blessed to have been able to experience such a brilliant piece of black art at such a young age. revisiting The Wiz in my adult years i am completely blown away! not only is it brilliant but it was light years ahead of its time! the costumes, music, set design, make up, and overall artistic direction are incredible! i'm in awe! we are so used to having mythology, fantasy, and storytelling, with purity and innocence told and shared by white people. no wonder i was obsessed with The Wiz as a child it gave me all the fantasy and mythology i needed.
learning that film was not well received by audiences and was a flop actually pains my heart. The Wiz was the first film produced by Motown Productions. since it lost millions of dollars in the box office it discouraged folks from investing in black films. this is extremely sad, nothing The Wiz has been made since its release in 1978. The Wiz set the standard for musicals and fantasy films. there would be no Avatar if there wasn't The Wiz, in fact the same makeup artist worked on both films. i hope the tv remake of The Wiz will ignite a modern day revival of this master piece that should not be forgotten.
The Wiz is based off of The Wizard of Oz interpretation by William F. Brown. it stars Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor. the score is by Charlie Smalls, Ashford and Simpson, Anthony Jackson, Luther Vandross, and Quincy Jones. please enjoy some images from this breathtaking and awe inspiring film.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS By James Baldwin from Creative America, Ridge Press, 1962.
Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when the chips are down, alone, is a banality—a banality because it is very frequently stated, but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.
The state of being alone is not meant to bring to mind merely a rustic musing beside some silver lake. The aloneness of which I speak is much more like the aloneness of birth or death. It is like the fearless alone that one sees in the eyes of someone who is suffering, whom we cannot help. Or it is like the aloneness of love, the force and mystery that so many have extolled and so many have cursed, but which no one has ever understood or ever really been able to control. I put the matter this way, not out of any desire to create pity for the artist—God forbid!—but to suggest how nearly, after all, is his state the state of everyone, and in an attempt to make vivid his endeavor. The state of birth, suffering, love, and death are extreme states—extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but we would rather not know it. The artist is present to correct the delusions to which we fall prey in our attempts to avoid this knowledge.
It is for this reason that all societies have battled with the incorrigible disturber of the peace—the artist. I doubt that future societies will get on with him any better. The entire purpose of society is to create a bulwark against the inner and the outer chaos, in order to make life bearable and to keep the human race alive. And it is absolutely inevitable that when a tradition has been evolved, whatever the tradition is, the people, in general, will suppose it to have existed from before the beginning of time and will be most unwilling and indeed unable to conceive of any changes in it. They do not know how they will live without those traditions that have given them their identity. Their reaction, when it is suggested that they can or that they must, is panic. And we see this panic, I think, everywhere in the world today, from the streets of New Orleans to the grisly battleground of Algeria. And a higher level of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have, now or in the future, of minimizing human damage.
The artist is distinguished from all other responsible actors in society—the politicians, legislators, educators, and scientists—by the fact that he is his own test tube, his own laboratory, working according to very rigorous rules, however unstated these may be, and cannot allow any consideration to supersede his responsibility to reveal all that he can possibly discover concerning the mystery of the human being. Society must accept some things as real; but he must always know that visible reality hides a deeper one, and that all our action and achievement rest on things unseen. A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven. One cannot possibly build a school, teach a child, or drive a car without taking some things for granted. The artist cannot and must not take anything for granted, but must drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides.
I seem to be making extremely grandiloquent claims for a breed of men and women historically despised while living and acclaimed when safely dead. But, in a way, the belated honor that all societies tender their artists proven the reality of the point I am trying to make. I am really trying to make clear the nature of the artist’s responsibility to his society. The peculiar nature of this responsibility is that he must never cease warring with it, for its sake and for his own. For the truth, in spite of appearances and all our hopes, is that everything is always changing and the measure of our maturity as nations and as men is how well prepared we are to meet these changes, and further, to use them for our health.
Now, anyone who has ever been compelled to think about it—anyone, for example, who has ever been in love---knows that the one face that one can never see is one’s own face. One’s lover—or one’s brother, or one’s enemy—sees the face you wear, and this face can elicit the most extraordinary reactions. We do the things we do and feel what we feel essentially because we must---we are responsible for our actions, but we rarely understand them. It goes without saying, I believe, that if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less. But the barrier between oneself and one’s knowledge of oneself is high indeed. There are so many things one would rather not know! We become social creatures because we cannot live any other way. But in order to become social, there are a great many other things that we must not become, and we are frightened, all of us, of these forces within us that perpetually menace our precarious security. Yet the forces are there: we cannot will them away. All we can do is learn to live with them. And we cannot learn this unless we are willing to tell the truth about ourselves, and the truth about us is always at variance with what we wish to be. The human effort is to bring these two realities into a relationship resembling reconciliation. The human beings whom we respect the most, after all---and sometimes fear the most—are those who are most deeply involved in this delicate and strenuous effort, for they have the unshakable authority that comes only from having looked on and endured and survived the worst. That nation is healthiest which has the least necessity to distrust or ostracize these people—whom, as I say, honor, once they are gone, because somewhere in our hearts we know that we cannot live without them.
The dangers of being an American artist are not greater than those of being an artist anywhere else in the world, but they are very particular. These dangers are produced by our history. They rest on the fact that in order to conquer this continent, the particular aloneness of which I speak—the aloneness in which one discovers that life is tragic, and therefore unutterably beautiful—could not be permitted. And that this prohibition is typical of all emergent nations will be proved, I have no doubt, in many ways during the next fifty years. This continent now is conquered, but our habits and our fears remain. And, in the same way that to become a social human being one modifies and suppresses and, ultimately, without great courage, lies to oneself about all one’s interior, uncharted chaos, so have we, as a nation, modified or suppressed and lied about all the darker forces in our history. We know, in the case of the person, that whoever cannot tell himself the truth about his past is trapped in it, is immobilized in the prison of his undiscovered self. This is also true of nations. We know how a person, in such a paralysis, is unable to assess either his weaknesses or his strengths, and how frequently indeed he mistakes the one for the other. And this, I think, we do. We are the strongest nation in the Western world, but this is not for the reasons that we think. It is because we have an opportunity that no other nation has in moving beyond the Old World concepts of race and class and caste, to create, finally, what we must have had in mind when we first began speaking of the New World. But the price of this is a long look backward when we came and an unflinching assessment of the record. For an artist, the record of that journey is most clearly revealed in the personalities of the people the journey produced. Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.
HOUSE PARTY 13360
on saturday, May 8th we all gathered in my home in Harlem to celebrate the release of the Ultra Violet EP. the celebration turned out fifty or so people in the name of love, dance, music, sex, healing and revolution. i am the daughter of two freedom fighters, and it has always been very important to me to bring people together with compassion and sincerity. we live in a time where black bodies are constantly abused, killed, and objectified, so when black bodies come together in love and acceptance it is an act of resistance: a protest of love. i am so thankful for the support i receive from my community. i am humbled and ecstatic from the collective act of joy and pleasure we all participated in on saturday.
injoy some fotos by Maria Monegro from the party.
all fotos by Maria Monegro.