When "Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry" burst on to the airwaves, we were in the middle of 2020, in the depths of a global pandemic, in the grip of the Trump administration, and witnessing the continuous brutality towards Black people, in the US and across the globe. Released on Planet Mu as a surprise on Juneteenth 2020, "Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry" was a sonic response to the past and present events unfolding.
Now available on vinyl for the first time along with a 60 page zine, plus 30 more minutes of audio with the bonus track 'On Bloodthirst and Jungle Fever'.
Rhythmanalyst DeForrest Brown Jr. created with his project Speaker Music, an album of "street-level fire music" exploring poet Tsitsi Ella JajiI’s concept of "stereomodernism," creating a painfully beautiful record of battered pieces of techno and spoken word. Over its original 49 minutes, the album plays out as one piece, with a disjointed and jittering rhythm that runs through the middle like a dislocated spine. The listener is presented with sonic windows, that abruptly open and close. Hazes of horns fill the air, voices murmur, free jazz drums roll and shatter, police scanners chirp in and out, while drones and synths cut through the electric storm.
Opening with 'Amerikkka’s Bay' where 18-year-old writer Maia Sanaa and Brown Jr.’s cousin reads out her poem about Black victims murdered by police, the listener is immediately challenged into hearing this reality. "Too tight. Too tight. In the hands of his oppressor he feels the burden of his people’s strife. She knows that if she dies the man who so viciously took her life will be able to go home that very same night, joyfully eat dinner with his kids and wife then kiss them goodnight, forgetting the little girl who he just made a memory."
This piece of poetry appears in the 60 page zine of collected writings by Black theorists and poets which provides further context.
For some, music can be a way to escape our reality and to turn on, tune in and drop out, but for others, it is a medium to provoke, educate, and turn up. "Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry" is not an easy listen, and neither should it be. It is an audio document of this current moment, and we should not look away.