AfroPunk Version

Oh yay! My first Black Witch’s The Arts post! I’m so excited! This is so awesome! Now, The Arts is gonna be a monthly post highlighting anyone or anything in the arts (i.e. Fine Arts, Literary Arts) that I find noteworthy. This will not be restricted to genre and I expect this to grow into something ever expansive. Let’s get started!
Alright, some music, music, music. This is the first post so I’ll name top favorites of mine.

P.O.D. I started listening to back when I was 14 or 15. They really revived my love for music, helped me get through my more complicated years and actually kinda were the kick off to me being Pagan – which is a bit of an odd story given they’re a pretty Christian band. They were my starting glimpse into the music industry and if I never heard them, I probably wouldn’t be the person that I am today. If I had to graph the history of my musical tastes, it would be a tree and P.O.D. would be the roots because without them, I would have never expanded like I have. It’s been wonderful for me to work with them on their promotion crew and to meet them many times. The fans of P.O.D. are spectacular, very much like a family and I love them dearly. They’re like extended family to me.

What got me into P.O.D. was a chance showing of their “Sleeping Awake” music video on a Circuit City travel bus showing off its wares during the annual Artscape Festival. This video here:

The awesomeness of the video convinced me to look the guys up and pretty much start a new chapter in my life. It was in them did I start looking at my own faith more and actually convert to Paganism from Christianity because I learned from P.O.D. to be true to yourself always and to always be open to God and to walk the path that you should instead of the path others want you to is the true way to happiness and divine fulfillment. Y’know, I couldn’t agree more. Usually songs with Christian overtones send me packing but these guys weren’t talking about being a happy Christian and that’s it, they talked about their lives and their struggles being raised poor and challenges in their faith, things I could relate to. I really owe plenty to them, it was real fate that I experienced their music and how it has guided me, from then when I was 14 to now that I’m 23. They really mean the world to me.

Payable on Death

Next up on the list… Fort Minor.

I left hip hop years ago because to be frank, I hate drugs, guns and misogyny. I was raised around it, why would I willingly listen to it? I was fairly convinced that the average rapper had the IQ of a can of paint and were just a bunch of proud convicts, rapists and murderers. The only good they served was just to make a White kid in the suburbs smile and make it that much harder for a Black kid in the hood to get out. It took Linkin Park’s emcee Mike Shinoda to prove me pretty wrong. (Say what you will about the band, they would have to be the trunk of my tree of music because they helped branch me out to other things besides P.O.D.)


Shinoda helped me get back into hip hop with his album Fort Minor: The Rising Tied. He’s really a great wordsmith and had some excellent people on the record, some of which will be featured in future music posts such as Lupe Fiasco and Styles of Beyond. From Fort Minor I was able to get my hands on the Green Lantern mixtape Fort Minor: We Major and hear a plethora of artists I never knew existed. Originally, all a person would have to say is they do hip hop and I would be disgusted immediately because I thought hip hop was now the cesspool of music but there still are some crafty individuals, it’s just the music industry that’s the cesspool by pushing worthless talent over the better ones, especially in hip hop. Now, I’m more willing to give it a chance. I remember even writing Lupe Fiasco off as another stereotypical minstrel rapper until I heard “Be Somebody” and “Spraypaint and Ink Pens”. That and one of my friends completely downloaded all of whatever the man ever spat into a microphone onto my mp3 player and told me to listen to it because he couldn’t believe I didn’t like Lupe Fiasco – and I was gonna be cut off from free Jamaican beef patties and ginger beer until otherwise. He also gave me Mos Def Black On Both Sides. Now my music selection is extremely half and half between hip hop and rock. I appreciate hip hop more now and it’s mainly thanks to Fort Minor. Oh sure, I was raised with Missy Elliot and DMX but they were like background sounds until now. Now, they’re with meaning. Plus if I had missed the boat completely on hip hop, I would have missed something as cute as this:

D’awwwww. A Lupe Fiasco and KRS-One christmas battle. Ain’t it cute?

No FM links here folks, has been taken down and what’s left is a FM ning network much like the one on AfroPunk.

Following up…

She’s new to the list since I’m mainly putting down the music that has influenced me most but I have a feeling she’ll be sticking around long time. If you known me even for a very recent or brief time, you know I love her. I’m talking about our favorite android, Janelle Monae.

I love this little ‘droid to bits and pieces, I’m tellin’ you. As much as I love P.O.D. and the men of Fort Minor, it’s like having a bunch of brothers – they’re sweet (though they can get on your last nerves from time to time) but sometimes it’s nice to have a sister around. All these guys are creative but to see a Black girl do it and with her imagination it’s really amazing and something I only wished I could have grown up with. It’s great seeing a girl with oodles of talent and not taking off her clothes. She’s really an important figure to me because it’s very hard wanting to be yourself when there’s almost no good examples around. Plus I’m a writer, the story of Cindy Mayweather is exactly what I needed when I thought my creativity pipe was running very dry from being at such a stifling university and all was growing dull around me.

She’s also the only one on this here list that simply caught my attention without sound. Yep, you read correct – I liked her before I ever sampled her stuff. What got me? The album cover of The Chase Suite. I saw it in off distance while being a pesky pest to some of my friends working in the Barnes & Noble’s music section in downtown Baltimore. I actually remember mistaking it for A Ghost in a Shell until I thought, “Waaaaaait a second. She looks Black. And a cyborg or android. Unusual hairstyle – it’s Black, definitely Black. Hmm, Black + sci-fi theme + girl + this girl is Black, doing a sci-fi theme and she’s a girl…. HOLY CRAP I MUST LISTEN TO HER.” I did just that and read her bio. I just heard “March of the Wolfmasters” automatically grabbed my wallet … to find no money in it. Then I did the next best thing and pestered my friends who were working behind the counter to learn more about everything. I think they were willing to let me walk off with it if that would shut me up and stifle my five million and two questions about her but the cameras were watching so they suffered my questions and pint-sized me pretty much hijacking their system computer. I hang around there a lot so I learned how to operate the database, heh heh. They got up a page on her and noticed that was the only thing keeping me quiet so they let me stare at it for as long as it meant I wasn’t bugging them. Once it was closing time, I pretty much went home with the album cover burned into my memory and looked up her website when it was just an invitation to be a citizen of Metropolis and ticking numbers. I found the “Many Moons” video and that was the start of that. I actually have two copies of The Chase Suite that I bought, one digital and one physical.

Monae also is a person I deeply appreciate for my lolita fashion, too. I felt that, “Well, she’s Black and a girl doing what she’s doing, I guess I can dress how I like too.” I love her style and the lolita side of me simply died with joy with her outfit in “Open Happiness”. Like I said, I love her to bits and pieces.

Janelle Monae
Wondaland Arts Society

Now heading up north…

K-OS kinda picked up for me where Fort Minor left off in musical creativity. I heard “Flypaper” from a fan video on YouTube by chance (which is how a lot of interesting stuff happens in my life, by complete and utter chance) and I was hooked, really. It’s such a cool song and with interesting perspective. “Sunday Morning” is totally wicked too. K-OS is a definition of a true emcee in my opinion, far more than just a mere rapper. No matter what he did, I could dig it. I got Atlantis and man was that mind blowing, I’m tellin’ you. I loved how he melded hip hop with rockabilly in “Equalizer” and he opened my exposure to hip hop up in Canada because through him I found Sweatshop Union and other Canadian emcees. His latest album Yes! is really amazing and pushes new boundaries, exactly what I always want to hear. Check out “4321”!

Amazing ain’t it? I’m so happy he was picked to perform at this year’s AfroPunk festival. Hopefully everyone liked his music as much as I do. And if you get Yes! you must must must listen to “Mr. Telephone Man”, “W.H.I.P. Cream” and “Astronaut”. If you can’t get the album now, you can listen to it on his site, just click his name below. I’m telling you, listen to “Mr. Telephone Man” if nothing else! The beat is killer.


These artists are influential to me by really just opening my eyes – and ears. They pioneered my travels in music, brought me to places I never thought I would be before, challenged my thinking and really stood out just by being themselves. I was sick of the radio, sick of sex, glamourized misery and complete lack of imagination, just tired with hearing the same old crap all the time. If the radio even started playing more of the likes of these people, I would listen to it again but it is what it is. It is sad that some truly gifted individuals may be barred from the radio because they don’t play to what the execs want and radio, along with the music industry itself, shall suffer for that. Commercial appeal isn’t everything and in the end it is quality, not quantity that wins out. Too bad the execs are too blind (or at least too greedy) for that.

Since these artists are not really heard on the radio or simply not heard frequently enough, it is one reason of many I’m doing The Arts posts. There’s soooo much out there that people don’t know about and this is something I do on my own personal blog, so I’m doing it here. I’ve got tons to recommend and you’re gonna hear ‘em here monthly. But remember, The Arts is for more than just music – I may recommend books, short films, festivals, anything to do with the arts, whether that’s the fine arts, literary arts or whatever have you, it all goes here.

Next week is “Ask a Witch”! Use the “Ask a Witch” form here on the right hand side to ask me whatever question you like. Ask about me, ask about yourself, whatever, I don’t mind. I will be answering the best three questions from here and AfroPunk so send ’em in! And I can be found on Twitter too saying completely witless things @thisblackwitch. But please don’t send your questions via that, I am still learning Twitter so I wouldn’t have a single clue if you did. Use the form, it’s so accessible.