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On The Map: The London Musicians Redefining the Black British Experience

Our latest installment of On The Map takes you through the new revolutionary sounds coming out of London.

In our series, On The Map, we ask artists, DJs, writers, and general in-the-know people to tell us about what’s happening in their hometown’s music scenes.


It’s no secret that London is a hub for eclectic music scenes and envelope pushing artists. In this fourth edition of On The Map, writer, music geek and occasional radio host Remi Graves takes us through the new revolutionary sounds coming out of London.

Gaika

First up is Gaika who’s stand-out vocals and forthright command of a blend of genres means he’s the artist in everyone’s earbuds. Following last month’s launch of his new SECURITY mixtape at Boiler Room, Gaika just wrapped up his first world tour, which saw him play New York’s RBMA and close things out at Tropical Waste in London.

Listening to his Red Bull Music Radio slot (he plays Bones Thugs-N-Harmony alongside Rage Against the Machine) uncovers the range of influences that can be heard in his genre-bending productions. From dancehall rhythms to dissonant bass and eerie distorted vocals, the Brixton based artist packs a mean multilayered punch with each release.

From a stellar feature on the remix of Kelela’s “All The Way Down” to collaborations with Mykki Blanco and Bipolar Sunshine, Gaika’s atmospherically melodic rapping is the sound of an artist experimenting with groove and grit. The result is unique and enticing. If you’ve never heard Gaika before, wrap your ears around his haunting banger "Blasphemer" below.

Kojey Radical

With Kojey Radical making similar waves on the alternative rap scene—and beyond—it’s no surprise he featured on the line up for Gaika’s mixtape launch. The Ghanaian Londoner sits on the boundary between poetry and rap, filling the liminal space with his version of what it means to be a black Brit in London today.

His aesthetic toys with a unique blend of hip-hop, trap and spoken word, speaking to current trends whilst also shifting their course. Whilst sleek and arresting visuals add weight to his already poignant lyrics, Kojey’s live show is a level up.

From krumping to azonto-ing on stage, the vibe is electric. For an artist currently without a record deal, the turn up and turn out at his shows is testament to the relevance of his work. “We’ve come a long way from being scared to say our African names when asked” reads the strapline on Kojey’s latest EP 23 Winters (which dropped earlier this year).

It sums up the specific black British experience that Kojey speaks to, where tracks like “Kwame Nkrumah” place the African ancestry of Black Londoners on centre stage. Fresh from supporting Ghost Face Killah at The Royal Festival, Kojey has just dropped fresh visuals for his track "Footsteps" (watch below) and will be performing in Bristol on June 15.

Nkisi

Co-founder of NON Worldwide; Nkisi is a regular on London’s best independent station NTS radio. Based in London but originally from Brussels with roots in Congo, Nkisi plays high-speed experimental techno, doomcore, house and electronic music from the diaspora on her monthly show. Her own productions (which featured on NON’s 2015 compilation) push the boundaries of music fusing dissonance with breakneck speeds and minimalist yet danceable, flickering beats. Whether spinning tracks in London’s underground basements or avant-garde art shows such as Paul Maheke’s Squad, Nkisi's redefining, rather smashing to smithereens, the limited idea of what black music can and should be.

Yusef Kamaal

London isn’t all nightclubs and well-established concert venues, and it’s in Clapton’s aptly named St James the Great Church that one of London’s best home grown live outfits Yussef Kamaal sweat it out to pay tribute to iconic jazz drummer Idris Muhammad just a few weeks back.

Drummer extraordinaire Yussef Dayes and killer keys man Kamaal Williams (aka Henry Wu) are the pioneers behind Yusseff Kamaal , a jazz band that brings pure groove to everything they touch. The tribute brought together some of London’s most talented young jazz musicians including Rocco Palladino on bass, Nubiya Garcia on saxophone and the inimitable 19-year-old Mansur Brown on guitar.

Drummer Yussef Dayes, leads the band driving through breakbeat, and jazz/hip-hop grooves with mind bending ease, smoothed over by the woozy sound of Kamaal’s Rhodes. They played to a full house at Jazz Re:freshed's 13th birthday (the hotspot for London’s homegrown jazz) and mentioned the forthcoming release of their album, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, tastemaker Gilles Peterson (and long standing supporter of the band) has put the band on the lineup for his Worldwide Festival in the South of France this summer. Yusseff Kamaal are part of a larger scene of envelope pushing jazzers keeping the form alive and share a bill with drummer and producer Moses Boyd alongside Kamasi Washington at London’s Sunfall festival this summer. Watch a teaser of their church show below.

Though the artists listed above are independently covering new ground in their respective genres, there’s a tangible feeling that their scenes overlap. These are London-based artists with roots in the black diaspora who are no doubt influenced (but by no means limited) by their identities.

With its finger on the pulse it’s no surprise that NTS, which has grown from a digital community radio station in Hackney to a household name for independent artists in the UK and beyond, is at the heart of the community supporting, and promoting the artists in this list.

CKTRL

Finally, because his track "Coffee with Larry B" (watch below) is an absolute scorcher and he’s been hinting at the imminent arrival of new music on his Instagram, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for new work from South London DJ and producer CKTRL. A regular at NTS Radio and at club nights such as Brixton’s LOCAL, he released his Forest EP last year, a blend of pitched up R&B vocals, the occasional saxophone, grimey electro and beats you’d expect to hear on the dance floor of a Vogue ballroom.

Despite the closure of pioneering club venues like Shoreditch’s Plastic People (and Dance Tunnel which is set to shut in August), the artists fuelling London’s independent club scene give no sign of letting up.

And we are forever grateful.

 

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Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at Christies.com. And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery


The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019


1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."


Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957


Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:

Galleries

31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

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