6.30.2011

Techno, from Germany to Detroit & black...the race is on!

When I left Bijlmer we had a goodbye party on the rooftops of Kraaiennest.
Coincidentally a Detroit DJ from Antwerpen played...
there was synchronicity in the techno/house.
Techno in Detroit is not like Dancehall in Kingston or Baile Funk in Rio de Janeiro.
The only ones HERE who cares are big eyed Danish tourists and Swedish/Dutch artists in residence. The techno stars of Detroit...Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Underground Resistance, Jeff Mills, Kevin Saunderson, Drexciya, Aux 88, Detroit Grand Pubah or Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman from really VERY neighbouring Windsor in Canada, really a stones throw away (even a girls throw) can eat their Coney Island? hotdogs in Detroit in cognito.
For them in seems to be impossible to be prophets (one) in their own hometown.
Bob Marley never seemed to have had any problems skanking in Kingston
and there is this old hip hop saying "if you can't rock your own neighbourhood??!!"
"...we'll rock Berlin, Amsterdam and London instead",
seems to have been the techno godfathers answer.
If you listen to mainstream radio in the USA, it is as racially divided as ever.
There is Rock music for the honkies and Hip Hop for the blacks.
How did this happen?
How could Detroit build up such a strong scene with so little local support from its homebase.
So different from other strong musical scenes where truly new inventions are being developed
on a daily, weekly basis.
For example Baile Funk (Rio de Janeiro), Minimal (Berlin), Dubstep (London), Cumbia
(all of South America except Brazil), Kuduro (Angola), Kwaito (South Africa) and so on aso...
In an interview in local magazine BLAC, Carl Craig explains "There is so much more recognition of the contributions Detroit (Techno) has made outside of Detroit, and defenitely outside of the U.S."...Just as Eminem had to work a bit extra hard (or did he) to be accepted in Hip Hop. Race seems to have played a part in Detroit techno too, but more from blacks who didn't consider Techno or House black enough. This month there is "Black music month" on the local radio stations, "celebrating the musical contributions Blacks have given to America".
"turning poverty and misery into swagger and style". And THIS seems to be the point too, not only race confusion but also class. Many of the stars of the Techno scene came from middle class background and weren't slinging crack in the projects. "Black music month" will NOT celebrate the black musical contributions of Techno (too middleclass and white) nor Chicago House (too genderbending and gay). But Techno DOES connect to a long tradition in black music, that of a liberating Afrofuturism..."space is the place" that goes back to George Clinton and P-Funk, Sun Ra and Afrika Bambataataa.
A longing for something else and new that they ironically also shared with
the German post war experimental Kraut movement of the late 60's and early 70's.
To quote the singer of Amun Duul..."we were tired of Nazism and Germany, but we also didn't want to make Anglo Saxon music (The Beatles or Rolling Stones)...we wanted to go somewhere else...so, space seemed to be an option". These ideas brought us the experimental genious of Faust, Can, Amon Duul, Neu, La Dusseldorf AND...Kraftwerk, which later got picked up by Afrika Bambaataa. The legendary DJ in Detroit who infused the local scene with all these new experimental ideas from Germany and Europe and mixed it up with Prince and P-funk , was called "The Electrifying Mojo (Charles Johnson). He had a radio show on a radio station geared towards the African-American market, and here he managed to experiment and break down gengre, racial, class and gender barriers. Not a bad achievement for a little DJ.
So the circle is again round...from Germany to Detroit and black.
This text is dedicated to The Electrifying Mojo and all other barrier breakers!

1 comment:

  1. a very nice written piece, well done!

    ReplyDelete