[By Goyland Williams]
In a yesterday’s post, I discussed the concept Afrofuturism and the connections between black music and literature. While Parliament-Funkadelic’s Mothership Connection and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man were the first two works that jumped out at me as Afrofuturistic, my continued interest in the subject has lead me to seek out other texts and works of art that fall into this category.
Archandroid—Janelle Monae (2010): In a album of utter beauty, rap, disco, rock, and folk, Janelle Monae takes us on a journey of ideas. Monae explores elements of science fiction and Afrofuturism as she follows a concept and the archandroid through a journey of freedom and escape.
ATLIENS—OUTKAST (1996): Outkast second album ATLiens with its speculative comic-book style cover, is overtly sci-fi. The title and the cover both suggest the symbolic estrangement from American society and hip hop culture at large. Andre 3000 refers to the group in the title track “ATLiens” as “the alienators cause we different keep your hands to the sky”, as if to suggest that they are waiting for the sweet chariot to carry them home.
Atlantis—SunRa (1969): Recorded in New York, New York between 1967 and 1969, ATLANTIS is another bold experimentation and one of the first jazz releases to give the clarinet center stage. The album explores futuristic, otherworldly sounds to African tribal rhythms.
Kindred (1979)—Octavia Butler’s novel is a mixture of texts that combines the historical, sci-fi, and slave narrative to tell a story. In the novel, a black heroine is transported into 19th century Maryland in order to recreate and connect with two African American narratives-the realities of slavery, and the legacy it has left behind.
The Intuitionist (1999) —Colson Whitehead: The Intuitionist takes place in a unnamed city that is presumed to be New York. Although not identified, the time is one when black people are called “colored” and integration is a current topic. The protagonist, Lila Mae Watson is an elevator inspector of the “Intuitionist School”. The method of inspecting the elevators requires a ride in the elevator to intuit the state of the elevator and its related systems. The book contains images of lifting and falling, and the concept of the elevator is thought to be a metaphor for racial progress.
Black Empire (1937)—George Schuyler: The main character Dr. Henry Belsidus is intensely dedicated to taking over the world by releasing blacks from the social forces of racism and poverty. Recognizing, he cannot do this alone, he enlists the black intelligentsia to help him create new weapons, health systems, and technology that anticipates future technological inventions. Belsidus uses his genius to quietly form a Black Internationale throughout the world that will, in the ensuing chaos, help relaim Africa for blacks.