In most cities, the nightlife leisure scene is a tell-all of the over all fabric of that particular urban environment, It’s a myriad of music flavors, talents, themes and the most important recipe to the concoction – the people and the personalities they present to the world. For Charlotte, it’s been a been an uphill battle of maintaining authenticity in a city where natives haven’t necessarily embraced most art forms. But it is also navigating that same authenticity in the same city where transplants, mostly from above the Mason-Dixon Line, continually test one’s creative will as if it meets a certain aesthetic standard. But in the wee hours at the end of the first decade of the new millennium and respectively the infancy of the 2010s arose a revolution – a Charlotte-fashioned renaissance of world-class ingenuity.
My creative journey first started in 2012 shortly after CIAA ended that year and what I would soon discover within a year’s time would not only alter my thought processing of how art and culture connects people, but also emerged was a well-versed and more aware sense of Blackness.
Just follow my drift….
My clubbing years became quickly replaced with a much more appealing plateau of artistic escapes underground – and with a fresh outfit you stepped out in, you needed the perfect accessory to make it pop – cause you had to let folks know that you were about that life.
What I thought I knew about Deep House only paled into comparison to what I heard – and even then, I tapped into a world where Afrofuturism paired with technologically indigenous rhythms gave me a new home to take residency in. And there, I’d rediscover the beauty of dance and seeing Black men and women be free in mind, body and soul
To have heard poetry & theatre performed so fierce & unapologetically, it sparked a new appreciation for concrete word phrasings, lyrical sequencing and acting that would make figures of The Harlem Renaissance & The Black Arts Movement brim with glee.
Then, I’d rediscover one of Black culture’s most colloquially known places of late night refuge know as “the spot” -- though reminiscent of the days growing up with your homies and cooling out with the latest & greatest of Hip Hop, but as I grew older, you would find out that true culture is the rehab from the likes of contemporary listenings.
Remember mixtapes? Yea, I do. Some of my best friends back in the day were my shoebox collection of cassettes that I recorded from radio. And even with the cornucopia of radio and televised programming I was fortunate enough to have experienced in my youth, I later realized that as a Midwesterner, I never had the pleasure of being immersed in Tri-State street culture that was totally off the meter for my young ears, but I didn’t want be left hanging on a wall either.
Being from Indianapolis had it’s musical perks at times – House music DJs from The Chi would often come during huge Black events and times I traveled up to the Windy City, I did manage to hear expertly-mixed House grooves on the radio. But being in Charlotte, I was afforded the chance to not only expound on “The House That Jack Built”, but to release myself through dance and allow the uptempo to upend my worries.
And lastly, but certainly not least, I love Africa. I love what it has given to the world through art & resource. As the inventor of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga once said, “Every Black person must return to Africa – if they are unable to get there physically, they must get there mentally.” And through this, I found myself on a sonic safari discovering music from Accra to Addis Ababa, Cairo to Cape Town, Monrovia to Mogadishu, the Sahara to the Serengeti and everywhere in between. And as an Afro-American, I realize that I can & will make things pop, ‘cause I’m about that tribe life.
These are Charlotte’s seven wonders –
Pop Life, Su Casa, Concrete Generation, Radio Rehab Carolinas, Off The Wall, Release! Classic & Soulful House and Afropop Nation.
And my life has been so much better with them in it.
The Black Ferris Bueller.