Kenyan hip hop and Afrofuturism

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Kenyatta Light of Kenya.jpg
I found the above image while searching for pictures of Jomo Kenyatta (pictured), the first Prime Minister of Kenya. It's a 2003 mixed media work titled "Space," by Kenyatta, age 4. The picture somehow captures the themes of both Kenyatta Day and Afrofuturism, which happen to coincide Saturday in Minneapolis. While Kenyatta Day offers a glimpse of Africa's future in hip hop and cinema (see below), the local exhibit, discussion, and events surrounding Afrofuturism at the Soap Factory (near St. Anthony Main) peer forward into the future of the African Diaspora, and use the sci-fi imagination to satirize the past. (The whole thing winds up this weekend.) I wish there were more work up by co-curator Ernest Arthur Bryant III (scroll down), whose painting I've compared to defacto Afrofuturist MF Doom's rap music (more here), but there's great stuff here, and Saturday features an interactive day of art and activities for families, sponsored by KMOJ-FM (89.9) and Insight News, including "relevance trees" and "future wheels" (mapping out the sequence of events required to get from where you are to where you want to be) between noon and 5:00 p.m., as well as a public dialogue led by former Electric Skin editor and art blogger extraordinaire Cinque Hicks: "After Afrofuturism" (5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.).

Kenyatta Day in Minneapolis

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The same evening, Kenyatta Day features the local premiere of Hip Hop Colony, a documentary about Kenyan hip hop, screening at 7:30 p.m. sharp at the Upfront Event Center in Brooklyn Center (5801 John Martin Drive Brooklyn Center, Minnesota 55430; 763.561.7100; directions here). San Francisco based Kenyan director Mike Wanguhu (pictured) will be on hand to discuss the film after. The event is preceded by a day of political discussion about Kenya and the legacy of Jomo Kenyatta, along with catered food, all at the Upfront Center beginning at 2:00 p.m. (Entire program at the Upfront is $20.00; advance tickets are encouraged so the caterers can cook enough food.) Then the film is followed by a night of music at the Blue Nile Bar and Restaurant, beginning at 10:00 p.m., with Samba Mapangala (check out these CDs) of Orchestra Virunga (famous for the songs "Vunja Mifupa," "Virunga," and "Malako") upstairs and DJ Top Donn (Donald Owino), a Kenyan deejay based in Chicago downstairs. ($15.00 advance/$20.00 at the door). For out-of-towners arriving early, the Blue Nile also presents a reception party Friday night featuring the Marimba Africa Band and Zilizopendwa upstairs, and DJ Top Donn downstairs ($10.00 at the door). Visit www.KilimanjaroEntertainment.com for updates and more information.

More on Kenyan hip hop

A City Pages article of local East African rapper Mo-Man, my 2004 review (scroll down) of The Rough Guide to African Rap, Africanhiphop.com, some music samples from the great Kenyan hip-hop group Gidi Gidi Maji Maji (more here, here, and here), who are featured on last year's essential The Rough Guide to the Music of Kenya (read Christgau's review). For more going on this weekend...

Complicated Fun at Culture to Go

Rap battle at Digital City Music (tonight), Juana Molina: When I go deaf (see her Saturday), Rob likes 'North Country'; Charlize Theron talks (opens today, discussion Saturday), The Last Block Party of 2005? (this Saturday, though the weather's sucking), "Do They Know It's Halloween?" (video), First Avenue Loosens Dress Code (ongoing), Minnesota Sur Seine (ends this weekend), "A four-hour documentary on Nazis" (continues this weekend), Go look at Mars (posted below), 3rd Annual Anti-Columbus Day Celebration (this sold out), 9:30 Club: The First Avenue of D.C (should screen again).


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