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The 2024 Black History Month Two-Piece (Part 2)

Event: BHM 2024 and Guest Lecturer, Africana Studies Department, Buffalo State University, Buffalo, NY

Date: Thursday, February 14 and Friday, February 15, 2024

Kicks of Choice: Kith x Nonnative x Ultra Boost Mid “Patchwork” and Nike Air Force 1 Utility “Black History Month” (2019)

Thoughts captured on February 23, 2024

 

I’ve come to the realization that the Red Eye can definitely work if you plan for the right conditions. For me, it’s really about making sure when I touch down, I have time to just sit, relax, rest and recuperate. So hoppin’ on that Red Eye from Los Angeles to Buffalo was the right move for me to get into the proper headspace to be at Buffalo State University.

 

First and foremost, shout out to all the people who looked at me crazy at Buffalo Niagara Airport, because I left LA and it was in the 60s…I walked out of the Buffalo airport into that 19 degree wind and literally started laughing out loud!!! If you’ve never been that far upstate (or north for that matter), the cold is different. I remember it vividly from the Berkshires – a Buffalo 19 degrees definitely feels like a New York City 5-10 degrees. It’s the type of cold that comes with that chill and gets through your clothes and into your bones. So I did have to adjust to the cold, but being in Buffalo was definitely official tissue!

 

The call for the Buffalo State University events came from Lisa Morrison-Fronckowiak, the Chief Diversity Officer. Lisa got connected to “K for the Way” and asked if I could come up to talk about the book for Black History Month. This conversation ran parallel with a convo happening with me and some of the folks in the Africana Studies Department (shouts to Naila and Marcus). So this turned into a three-day stay: I guest lectured to a series of students on Thursday, and then gave a book talk on Friday.

 

Thursday’s class was lit! I got a chance to speak with three different Africana Studies classes. Some of the students read a chapter of the book, some of them didn’t. So to help them understand the work I do, I literally recreated the intro scene from Chapter 4 (I’ll be sure not do the “spoiler alert” thing here). I started the class by playing music, then I played all the songs I used in Chapter 4 to discuss the relationship between the DJ/Producer and MC, and how DJs who make the transition into producing see music differently. Original version and remix are important here as well. After walking students through that dialogue, we spent the rest of class really talking with each other. I tell students all the time “I’m going to learn waaaaaaay more from y’all than you will from me,” so the idea of tapping in with young folks and gauging what the pulse of the culture is through their eyes is always incredible. I just love the idea that we can be talking about the same music and the same culture, and that there are ways to bridge those gaps – and Hip Hop is always that bridge for me in those convos. And what made it so crazy was class started at 9:25am. That’s still early on a college campus. But these students were alert, they were tapped in, and we were rockin!

 

On Friday, I got a chance to share the book talk and really delve into what “K for the Way” is doing. I’m still honestly struck by how the work just continues to resonate with folks! And even though this book really taps into Writing and Rhetoric, I see how it also gels well with conversations about music and culture, how it connects with Africana Studies Departments and how it also keeps the clear lens and focus on Hip Hop culture writ large. Finally, tapping into DJ culture is something that folks haven’t quite done in the same way, so these conversations with people in various spaces are really making sense.

 

Even though it snowed while I was in Buffalo, I was still able to make it back home early the next morning. And best believe, packing for multiple climates is not fun, but this trip was definitely worth it! I know we’ll be collaborating on things soon, so I’m looking forward to building out a deeper relationship with Buff State. Shout out to Lisa, my homie LeVar (who made sure I got to experience the Buffalo wing game properly), Naila and Marcus, and all the folks who made me feel welcome at Buff State. Also, super shout out to Thomas Freeman – if you haven’t seen the 848 documentary yet, go check that out right now!!!




 

 

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