Arts + Culture

NextGen: Black Quantum Futurism Is a Women-Led Incubator Rooted In Black Liberation

Get to know the minds behind Black Quantum Futurism—Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa—and the important work they do.

DIASPORAOver the course of July we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it. 


Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

Throughout this month, we'll also highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in our daily profile series, 'NextGen.'

In our tenth edition, meet the minds behind the Black Quantum Futurism collective. 

Afrofuturism can be expressed far beyond music, art, fashion or film - it can be a method of activism and community building. That is exactly what Black Quantum Futurism, a women-led organization based in Philly, aspires to do, with the help of art, history and teaching.

Founded by poet Camae Ayewa of musical outfit Moor Mother, and Rasheedah Phillips of The Afrofuturist Affair, Black Quantum Futurism focuses on spreading healing, justice and memory through activism, DIY culture and art, primarily but not exclusively to people that may not have access to the internet.

"Afrofuturism can be used by disenfranchised communities to create safe space for dialogue, visioning, and testing of ideas around community sustainability, resilience, and resistance—and as a technology for the actual implementation of those visions and ideas," Ayewa says in an interview with Thump. "(It also sets) an example for other advocates and policymakers on how to creatively approach these issues using social practice and community-engaged art. That's what Black Quantum Futurism is. It's all practical—that's the main point."

At this summer's Moogfest, a music, art and tech festival in Durham, North Carolina, Black Quantum Futurism and The Afrofuturist Affair curated workshops, performances and talks around empowerment through Afrofuturism. There was "Discovering Your Secret Superpower," which helps people channel their inner superhero personas and “14 hours,” a 14-hour performance by Ayewa. Workshops and performances aside, BQF has published books, created a designated community space called Community Futures Lab in North Philly, has conducted residences and held talks around the world.

Black Quantum Futurism proves that we can write our own futures into existence, by remembering the past and envisioning a brighter present. "It's interesting how communities all over the world are understanding how important it is to move [away] from social constructs. One model that you read in some book, or some person was talking about on Facebook, may not be the model for you. We have to take the agency to define our own thing that keeps us chill, keeps our head above water."

Interview

Interview: Bizzle Osikoya Is the A&R Shaping the Voice of a New Generation

We caught up with the A&R expert and co-founder of The Plug Management to talk about the fast-rising demand for Nigerian music and what it takes to break out as an artist.

The meteoric rise of Nigeria's burgeoning music industry over the last few years is definitely one for the books. From high profile collaborations that have graced international charts to appearances on American late night TV and a Grammy nomination, the Nigerian sound is sitting at the epicenter of a global conversation that the world—including Queen Bey herself —seem to scrabbling to get a piece of the action.

However, way before this global infiltration and westernized conflation of Africa's assortment of genres into one Afrobeats, Bizzle Osikoya was studying Music Business in England and plotting for a way to be a part of what he knew was inevitable. "I remember going to clubs in school and they would always play Jamaican music but rarely Nigerian songs. I knew we made good music here but I knew I couldn't sing. So I was motivated to come back, go behind the scenes, and see how we can make that crossover possible," he tells OkayAfrica.

More than a decade after making the intrepid decision to venture into A&R, helping artists find and develop their sound, Bizzle's creative genius has cascaded across different musical generations, from the piracy rife CD mix era with artists like Naeto C, Wande Coal and Dr. Sid to a streaming era populated with hits from Reekado Banks, Tiwa Savage and Davido.

Following the success of his latest project, Oxlade's Oxygene, we caught up with the A&R expert and co-founder of the Plug Management—a talent management company that has managed Davido, Peruzzi and DJ Obi—to talk about what it takes to break out as an artist, the fast-rising demand for Nigerian music, and how "alté" is not the same thing as alternative music.

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