PRINT December 2016

Music: Best of 2016

Chino Amobi

Still from GAIKA’s 2016 SECURITY mixtape film, directed by Gaika Tavares.

1 GAIKA, SECURITY (Mixpak) GAIKA’s mixtape has a palpable urgency and illuminates bright like the light of white phosphorus. He describes SECURITY as the “anthropology of burner phones cast in gold, late night shebeens in the ends where everyone is drinking premium spirits in a brokedown flat.” Man’s psychoscape is not to be slept on.

2 YVES TUMOR, SERPENT MUSIC (PAN) The most untouchable record of 2016. Tumor reaches god level on this album. The tangible, lived-through dread and jouissance of the displacement he has experienced reverberate with painstaking grace and consistency.

3 ANGEL-HO, “RED DEVIL” (9th Berlin Biennale, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, June 22) Gia is the performative alter ego of producer and NON cofounder Angel-Ho (Angelo Valerio); this character designates an alternate space and language for the embodiment of queer- and transness, beyond academic classifications. In June, as part of collective Cuss Group’s event program “Nguni Arts International” at the Berlin Biennale, Angel-Ho performed as Gia in front of the exhibition’s infamous headless Rihanna cutout.

4 NKISI, DJ KITOKO VOL. 1 (Self-released) NKISI (Melika Ngombe Kolongo) is the powerhouse of NON, one of its cofounders, and irrefutably the world’s greatest DJ. Her auteur style is untouchable. In March, she released DJ KITOKO VOL. 1 before traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The searing four-track tape places NKISI at the center of Black Invisible Visibility. You will be destroyed upon listening. Her presence will doom you.

5 KABLAM, FURIOSA (Janus Berlin) It is an understatement that women are highly overlooked within all fields of creative expression, especially in the world of electronic music. Furiosa, released on the seminal Berlin-based label Janus, vehemently tears through this haggard binary with a hard beauty and strength that can’t be ignored. Kablam (Kajsa Blom) embraces raw frustration and feminist power as well as her Scandinavian roots and, in the process, rips the world to shreds in a way only she knows how.

Promotional image for Yves Tumor’s Serpent Music, 2016. Photo: Daniel Sannwald.

6 MYA GOMEZ, INMATE (NON Worldwide) Gomez’s chilling debut draws its source materials from her stay at one of England’s immigration removal centers, in which women are detained before deportation. Using the familiar lexicon of dance music, Gomez shares her personal experience as well as the perspectives of fellow detainees she encountered within the detention center—voices that might otherwise go unheard.

7 DEDEKIND CUT, AMERICAN ZEN (DED003) (Ninja Tune) Dedekind Cut (formerly Lee Bannon and a collaborator of Joey Bada$$) explores the terrain of subtle ambience—a genre that is generally not considered “Black Music” by any stretch of the term. The sonic mood and headspace of American Zen provide solace in the midst of intercultural and geopolitical chaos.

8 MORO, SAN BENITO (NON Worldwide) Created in the “ramba” style that MORO (Mauro Guz Bejar) himself coined as a mixture of Argentine, Uruguayan, and Cuban rhythms, San Benito was recorded in the artist’s home city of Buenos Aires. MORO clinically yet spiritually delineates and recontextualizes the erasure of the African heritage within Argentine tango music by discursively bringing back relentless percussion. The record asserts its narrative through sonic virtuosity and blunt force.

9 KLEIN, MARKS OF WORSHIP (Self-released) Hauntingly seductive UK-born vocalist Klein is arguably this year’s most innovative siren. This video masterpiece, directed by Akinola Davies Jr., depicts the draconian tension of revered religion and culture, all while drawing Klein’s Nigerian upbringing to the forefront.

10 MHYSA, HIVEMIND (NON Worldwide) Hailing from Prince George’s County, Maryland, Mhysa (E. Jane) is a pop star for underground cyber resistance and a Queer Black Diva. Her debut EP—made for Black Women first by a Black Woman in America—unequivocally substantiates, both sonically and vocally, that softness and vulnerability are femme-specific strengths rather than weaknesses.

Artist and producer Chino Amobi is the Creative Director and a founder of NON, a label and collective of diasporic African artists using sound as their primary medium. His latest EP, Airport Music For Black Folk, was released on NON worldwide in March. His debut LP, Paradiso, is forthcoming from Label Uno NYC.