Aja Monet: Where the land is Free
Aja Monet is a Caribbean American poet, performer, and educator. Her poems are wise, lyrical, and courageous. Aja Monet was awarded the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title and has been internationally recognized for combining her spellbound voice and vivid poetic imagery on stage. In 2018, Aja Monet’s first full collection of poetry, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. She read the title poem of her collection at the national Women’s March on Washington DC in 2017 to commemorate women of the Diaspora. Aja has independently published several chapbooks including Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers (2014) and The Black Unicorn Sings (2010). In 2012, she collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on the book Chorus: A literary Mixtape, an anthem of a new generation of poets.
Aja Monet currently lives in Little Haiti, Miami where she is co-founder of Smoke Signals Studio, a community collective dedicated to music, art, culture, and community organizing. Inspired by poet June Jordan’s revolutionary blueprint, Aja facilitates “Voices: Poetry for the People,” a poetry workshop for grassroots community organizers and leaders. The workshop created the first annual Maroon Poetry Festival in Liberty City, Miami to honor elder cultural workers for their commitment to radical truth-telling. She was a featured speaker at TEDWomen 2018 for her meaningful work in South Florida with Smoke Signals Studio.
Even on the coldest (a.k.a. 50-degree) Oakland day, Sarah Kirnon’s soul-warming Caribbean cuisine at (Michelin 2019) Miss Ollie’s will transport you to the islands. Barbados-born Chef/owner Sarah Kirnon named her restaurant after her grandmother, and it now serves up many of her childhood favorites, including plump, sweet grilled shrimp in a jerk marinade and some of the best fried chicken in town—with a flaky golden-brown crust. Housed in the historic Swan's Market building in Old Oakland, Miss Ollie's has a particularly loyal crowd of lunchtime regulars, who sip tart ginger limeade as they liberally dose their food with the excellent Scotch bonnet hot sauce. With all the colorful art on the walls as well as a welcoming staff, it's a rustic slice of Caribbean soul. - MICHELIN guide inspectors
On September 28, Chef Sarah prepares a dinner that includes:
• RBC coffee & smoked pepper rubbed grilled goat.
• Grilled coffee rubbed plantains & tofu / with tamarind sauce (vg)
• Grilled Japanese sweet potatoes/ with coconut and herb oil.
• Wild arugula salad with chayote and cucumber.
André D. Singleton is a New York City based educator, human rights activist, and multi-disciplinary artist born in Kansas City, Missouri. Widely known as the co-creator of ‘The Very Black Project,’ a popular social awareness initiative that celebrates the African Diaspora, he is a thread within a fabric of pioneers on a mission to unite people from an abundance of cultural backgrounds. Triumphant over a terminal illness and accepting his sexuality empowered Singleton to approach life with a fierce determination to be free and embracing of his truth. Singleton’s work continues to inspire courage, pride, and vulnerability, encouraging people all over the world to respect one another so that our communities might remain enriching for us all.
SCRAAATCH is the sound and performance art duo of MHYSA and lawd knows. Originally from Maryland and based in Philadelphia, SCRAAATCH has performed and exhibited sound and media experiments at venues including MoMA PS1, The Kitchen, MoCADA and the New Museum in NY, Various Small Fires in LA and Little Berlin and the ICA in Philadelphia. Using the chaotic and energetic hybrid DJ/live PA style they’ve come to be known for, they’ve played sets for Boiler Room, MoMA PS1 Sunday Sessions and GHE20G0TH1K among many others. They’ve shared the stage with musical likeminds including Elysia Crampton, NGUZUNGUZU and SHYB0I. SCRAAATCH’s history in the growing URL/IRL electronic music scene of the last few years includes throwing wildly experimental and inclusive nights as part of ATM and contributing their sounds and socially critical voices to earliest outings of NON Worldwide in North America. In addition to their monthly show on NTS Radio, the future for them includes projects on Halcyon Veil and other labels.
Saul Williams has called us to task again with a musical belief system: "I’ve been waiting for this public interest to arise in what we’re now terming “Afrofuturism.” I don’t give a fuck what you call it. I think there’s an American tent to that term. I think it comes from a Western gaze, where the idea of what others might call “magical realism” has existed in other cultures and in African cultures in particular for eons."
Encrypted and Vulnerable, is the second in a series of three albums and part of the multi-tiered MartyrLoserKing project—the graphic novel and sci-fi cinematic musical written and directed by Williams himself. Neptune Frost is meta protagonist in the film who eventually takes on the hacker name MartyrLoserKing.
The great thing about sequels is that we get to witness the growth of an artist in real time. We have a map and can search for what the story is moored by. You can sense when it’s both improvisational and consistent. We get to watch this artist move with patterns, not trends.
Encrypted and Vulnerable speaks to Williams’ growing relationship with Afro-digital epistemologies, his migration as an artist, and his ongoing dance with theater. It’s minimalist and compelling. And the ratio between voice and music leaves room for your questions and dialogue, which indicates a great distribution of silence and space. Intentionally repetitive like ritual. Trance. The place where respectability meets genre promiscuity. Party, no bullshit.
The samples are sparse and made up of found objects. And in fact, every Saul Williams album is a becoming of the archives of his mind. A repository for literary, cinematic, and political points of reference. A street scholar listening practice.
Read More from Lynnée Denise on Encrypted & Vulnerable: http://saulwilliams.com/encrypted-vulnerable-epk/