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THE BIG BLACK EPISODE




Back in May, we experienced this cosmic episode of Timmhotep’s “Subject To Change” show on NTS Radio. Right when we tuned in, we caught the beginning (talk about divine timing, ha!) of a wonderful trilogy of jams based around our beloved Parliment fav, “Mothership Connection (Star Child)”. We holla’d at Timmhotep to learn more about the inspiration/curation of this mix.

Check out what he shared with us below alongside the mix here
Timmhotep on Subject To Change show + “The Big Black Space” episode:

I've been doing a monthly show on NTS Radio since 2018 called Subject To Change. Its name is a nod to Octavia Butler's Parable books in which the protagonist, Lauren Oya Olamina, practices a religion/philosophy called "Earthseed," based on the central tenet that "God is Change." My show's title is an acknowledgment that nothing is really static and that we are all subjects to this inevitable, undeniable force called change. Our relationship to change is something we decide.

Every month I play music in accordance with a different theme. Informed by the state of the world and my personal life in the surreal state of quarantine and "lockdown", May's theme was "The Big Black Space."

To be honest, doing the show is therapeutic. Making them allows me to travel without moving. This year has been a months-long rollercoaster ride with many extreme dips. Shit's been very difficult emotionally. I've been taking this time to unlock my imagination to help me not just cope but to also come up with ways to shape my present and future constructively. The way out is inward.

In the days prior to recording the episode, all I could think of was freedom and confinement, captivity and escape. I decided that if circumstances wouldn't allow me to physically travel my only way out was to look within. This conjured up ideas and imagery associated with the Afrofuturist artists who had come before me who imagined Black liberation as cosmic salvation. Space is the place.

My musings throughout the episode are a semi-poetic exploration of this thought process and an invocation of those who walked the path before I did.

In the hour I had I wanted to present different takes on this theme, John and Alice Coltrane make it spiritual with "The Sun", Devin The Dude adds humor with "Zeldar," Gil Scott-Heron grounds us with the prescient/ever-relevant "Whitey On The Moon" and a screwed version of the first Space Force ad plays after because reality is absurd. Again, Space is the place -- Sun Ra knew it, Ras G (RIP) knew it, Colours That Rise knows it, etc.


From ancient Egypt (KMT) to the Dogon people of Mali, to Sun Ra to George Clinton, we people of African descent have always looked to the stars for information and salvation. The songs chosen here are threaded together by this recurring theme in Black music and expression.




Timmhotep on Parliament’s "Mothership Connection (Star Child)", Dr. Dre's "Let Me Ride" and the live version of "Swing Down, Sweet Chariot":


I grew up in a Caribbean household and my first exposure to music was Anglican church hymns, Bob Marley and Wailers albums, and Mighty Sparrow songs. I learned about American music via the radio, my peers, and through Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop from groups like EPMD, Redman, Ice Cube, and of course, Dr. Dre put me on to P-Funk.

"Let Me Ride" is my favorite song on The Chronic and when I discovered its source years ago it blew my mind. What I did with that medley was start at the beginning with the studio-recorded version of "Mothership Connection (Star Child)" then go into Dre's song and round it out with the version of "Swing Down, Sweet Chariot" recorded live in Oakland that you hear at the end of Dre's "Let Me Ride." What I'm trying to show is the transcendent feeling of the song.

Timmhotep on Maassai (the only woman in the episode who is a rising artist):

Maassai is one the more interesting rappers out. She's got a sharp ass pen, really dope delivery, and this very unique personal style (check her IG). Her music tends to be conceptual which is right up my alley. She represents an injection on nowness into the mix. 


Maassai
Construct!on 002: THE CAUTION TAPE
by Maassai


Stream Here:


Maassai's "Space" helps to ground the theme of the show. It's not just about outer space and inner space exploration but the idea of Blackness taking up any and all space. Maassai's song hits on that and for me. it speaks to making space for one's self no matter who would try to deny it.