Cultural

Afrofuturism in Music: The Rhythm of the Future

Afrofuturism has been a part of black culture for years, especially in the music industry. While the movement may be traced back to the eclectic Sun Ra, the influence has trickled down to generations of artists who have unleashed beautiful and bold creative pieces.

Afrofuturism is evident especially in the album art, sound and videos of several artists. The lyrics and wardrobe of Andre 3000, member of the rap duo Outkast, reflect black cultural identity in a whole new dimension. Will.i.am of the supergroup Black Eyed Peas has a futuristic style that extends well beyond the norm of the entertainment industry.

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With their wardrobe selections, Andre 3000 and will.i.am have been the embodiment of afrofuturistic fashion; a trend that cannot be mentioned without including Janelle Monáe. From the studded suits, the android attire, and the out of this world hairstyles, Monáe has been a walking depiction of a woman proudly rooted in afrofuturism. The release of “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane” off her forthcoming album Dirty Computer have all the markings and elements of art deeply engraved in afrofuturism.

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For any Black Eyed Peas fan, they know the futuristic vibe of “The E.N.D.” On this album Will.i.am and crew focused on a more electronic sound, with videos incorporating technology to create powerful images. “Meet Me Halfway” was a composition that used technology to seamlessly join the past with the future; a staple concept of afrofuturism.

Furthering Afrofuturism into Music

Keri Hilson’s and Timbaland’s music video for “Return The Favor” has elements of afrofuturism, from the costumes to the entire video ensemble. Beyoncé’s album “Lemonade” is filled with the depiction of the supernatural while still managing to keep the videos relevant to the past and the present.

Every day more and more artists seem to be embracing afrofuturistic concepts. Whether it is the integration of technology into the sound, the visual composition of the album art, the music videos or even the wardrobe, afrofuturism has been slowly making its mark in the production of music.

Although the majority of hip-hop and pop music is not afrofuturistic-inspired, it’s clear that it that afrofuturism has grown to influence many modern artists. We look forward to seeing even more musicians use the concepts to portray black culture in its most powerful form yet.

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