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These Brooklyn-Based Artists Are Building An Archive Of The Future For The African Diaspora

Two Brooklyn artists want a future that includes people of African descent.

Ayodamola Okunseinde (left) and Salome Asega (right) take the Iyapo Repository to the streets of Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Ayodamola Okunseinde.


Spandex, tubing and motors come together to resemble an earthbound spacesuit. For Brooklyn-based new media artists Salome Asega and Ayodamola Okunseinde, creating the opportunity to invent a vision of the future that includes people of African descent is an urgent project. What looks like an Afro-centric astronaut is actually an artifact of much deeper spiritual and cultural meaning.

“We have [participants] play a card game where they choose a narrative, object and purpose of the invention,” Asega tells Okayafrica in a phone interview. “We had a woman, for example, who had to invent an object for a revolutionary that included a motor with a medicinal function. She drew a bodysuit made of spandex, tubing and motors on the arms and legs. She thought this object could be used for therapeutic purposes to help people who’ve experienced water trauma.”

According to Okunseinde, interpreting the purpose of the inventions helps the process to be reflective as much as it is technological.

“In this case,” he says, “this bodysuit will help somebody who had trauma with large bodies of water through the impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade. It becomes a way to deal with that cultural trauma. When we build this suit, we plan on incorporating vibrator motors that provide data on tidal waves in the Atlantic Ocean.”

In conjunction with their Eyebeam residencies in Brooklyn, Asega and Okunseinde developed the Iyapo Repository as a way for the community to begin thinking about futuristic artifacts. They consider the participants to be “archivists of a futuristic museum.” They’ve facilitated workshops and set up “research centers” for the public on the streets of Brooklyn for participants to interpret each object’s function as well as their role in a futuristic society. Asega and Okunseinde will then take the drawn or constructed prototypes and construct them into functional inventions.

The artists recently brought the design thinking workshop to Brooklyn's Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in conjunction with February's Black Future month. Named after the character Lilith Iyapo, as an ode to African-American sci-fi author Octavia Butler, the project emphasizes the devices that add to the capability of having one see themselves in the future through technology.

“The future is given to us in in a top-down way,” Asega says. “We want our participants to feel a sense of ownership — that one can actually create one’s own future. When one starts thinking in that space, the future becomes even more possible.”

For Okunseinde and Asega, this project is about the plurality of futurism and for one to negotiate what hasn’t worked in the present.

“Ultimately we’d love to do this internationally — like in Brazil, Nigeria or a country in East Africa — to see if there’s a difference between locations,” Okunseinde says. “Their perception of the future may be different than ours when considering their language, experiences and environment.”

The artists hope to showcase the objects they are building from the Iyapo Repository at a show with Eyebeam in May. They are also in the process of looking at other residency programs and galleries to continue the project. Visit Iyapo Repository’s website for more information.

Photo courtesy of Ayodamola Okunseinde.

Photo courtesy of Ayodamola Okunseinde.

Photo taken at the Iyapo Repository workshop at Brooklyn's MoCADA. Courtesy of Ayodamola Okunseinde.

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9 Must-Hear Songs From Ghana's Buzzing Drill Scene

We give you the rundown on Ghana's drill movement, Asakaa, and the most popular songs birthed by it.

Red bandanas, streetwear, security dogs, and gang signs. If you've been paying any attention to the music scene in Ghana over the past few months, then by now you would have noticed the rise of a special hip-hop movement. The movement is called Asakaa, and it's the Ghanaian take on the Chicago-born subgenre of hip-hop called drill music. It's fresh, it's hot, it's invigorating and it's nothing like anything you've seen before from this part of the world.

The pioneers of Asakaa are fondly referred to by the genre's patrons as the Kumerica boys, a set of budding young rappers based in the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. They came into the limelight towards the end of 2020, and have been dropping banger after banger since then, topping several charts and racking up millions of views collectively. The rap is charismatic, the visuals are captivating, and their swag is urban. Characterized by Twi lyrics, infectious hooks, and sinister beats, the allure and appeal of both their art and their culture is overflowing.

"Sore," one of the benchmark songs of the movement, is a monster hit that exploded into the limelight, earning Kumerican rapper Yaw Tog a feature on Billboard Italy and a recent remix that featured Stormzy. "Ekorso" by Kofi Jamar is the song that took over Ghana's December 2020, with the video currently sitting at 1.3 million views on YouTube. "Off White Flow" is the song that earned rapper Kwaku DMC and his peers a feature on Virgil Abloh's Apple Music show Televised Radio. These are just a few examples of the numerous accolades that the songs birthed from the Asakaa movement have earned. Ghana's drill scene is the new cool, but it isn't just a trend. It's an entire movement, and it's here to stay.

Want to get familiar? Here we highlight the most prominent songs of the Asakaa movement that you need to know. Here's our rundown of Ghana's drill songs that are making waves right now. Check them out below.

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