Renowned DJ, producer, and visionary artist King Britt has carved an indelible path in the world of music, and his latest endeavor, the Blacktronika course, stands as a testament to his commitment to cultural exploration of the black roots of electronic music. This groundbreaking multifaceted project delves deep into the captivating realm where Afrofuturism and electronic music intertwine. It offers a unique and enriching experience that debunks electronic music’s often white-washed mythology inspiring musicians and enthusiasts alike to understand its diverse origins.
Blacktronika: The Course
Blacktronika: Afrofuturism in Electronic Music is a college course, created by King Britt for the University of California San Diego, that honors all the pioneers of color that continue to contribute to the advancement of electronic music. The class has included lectures and contributions from Herbie Hancock to Moor Mother to Flying Lotus. At the heart of King Britt’s Blacktronika is a course that is a celebration of the African diaspora’s influence on electronic music, a story often overlooked in mainstream narratives. With an unwavering dedication to highlighting the roots of the genre, the course explores the fusion of traditional African rhythms, instruments, and vocals providing insights into cutting-edge electronic production techniques.
The curriculum goes beyond the technical aspects of music production, focusing on Afrofuturism’s philosophical and historical underpinnings. King Britt takes students on a journey through time, exploring the genre’s evolution and its intersection with cultural identity, history, and technology. Participants are encouraged to embrace a forward-looking perspective while recognizing the rich heritage and contributions of Black culture to the world of electronic music.
King Britt who is a producer and artist who performs under the aliases; Fhloston Paradigm, Firefly, The Nova Dream Sequence, Scuba (origin), SYLK130, Obafunke, shares his own artistic process and insights gained from a prolific career that has spanned decades. From his groundbreaking work with Digable Planets to his experimental projects, Britt’s expertise and creativity inspire and empower students to find their unique voice within electronic genres.
This course promotes a broader and Blacker understanding of the history of electronic music and the influences of artists of color in the development of electronic music. I’m honored that our film, God Said Give Em Drum Machines, which chronicles the creation of Techno by pioneering black teens in Detroit, and the companion book that I contributed to, and wrote the forward for, has been added to this course’s bibliography as recommended reading.
Just as the collaboration on Techno Blvd was the key to the creation of Techno in Detroit, one of the course’s key goals is an emphasis on teaching community-building and collaboration. King Britt fosters a supportive environment where students can interact, share ideas, and collaborate on musical projects. This nurturing atmosphere enables participants to learn from each other’s diverse backgrounds and experiences, encouraging mutual growth and understanding. The Music Origins Project is providing teaching resources and curricula for the High School and Middle School teachers and students in Detroit Techno 101 to reach the same goals.
The online nature of the Blacktronika course allows aspiring musicians from around the globe to participate, breaking down geographical barriers and promoting cultural exchange. King Britt’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity ensures that the course reaches a diverse and global audience, contributing to a more inclusive and representative electronic music community.
King Britt’s Blacktronika course represents a transformative musical and educational experience. By embracing the intersection of Afrofuturism and electronic music, he challenges participants to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of a variety of synthesizer-infused musical forms and their potential to shape the future of music. As King Britt continues to inspire the next generation of artists, his Blacktronika course stands as a beacon of creativity, unity, and exploration in the ever-evolving world of electronic music. The course has hosted Jenn Nkiru (Black To Techno) in class, as well as Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, Waajeed, Ash Lauryn and DeForrest Brown Jr and many others.
The etymology of the word Blacktronika stems from the original Blacktronica events held in London in the early 2000s, that were curated by Charlie Dark, but Britt added a “k” to the spelling. With his blessing, he utilized the name for the permanent course which he has into a new festival, with events at UC San Diego and MoCA / Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles.
Blacktronika: The Festival
King Britt has revived original the Blacktronica concept for the first time on the East Coast as a live DJ session and musical platform with live performances in Brooklyn.
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Britt’s latest incarnation of the Blactronika festival was held at the iconic, Public Records in The Nursery and the Sound Room on July 30, 2023.
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King Britt’s reincarnation of Blacktronica in NY offered a stellar lineup that was at the intersection of electronic soul, house, and alternative hip-hop. This event featured a reunion of the legendary alternative hip-hop heroes, Antipop Consortium, aligning perfectly with the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop. Beans, High Priest, M. Sayyid, and producer Earl Blaize rocked a free-form set that delved between, their classics, freestyles, and an improvised electronic session.
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There was also a live beat set by Orion Sun, whose followers may not know this side of her but she dropped a set of her tracks that flowed between improvised beats and and her unique lyrics and rhymes. Pulitzer Prize winner, Dr. Tyshawn Sorey and King Britt also performed live together, reflecting the critically acclaimed album Tyshawn & King, exploring rhythms and electronic rhythms. Charlie Dark of Attica Blues fame (and original creator of Blacktronica) took us on a musical journey across the globe with his iconic, no-frills approach to DJing. King Britt did some deep spinning, educating the crowd with a range of genres in a 3-hour set during the day. The emerging sonic icon, Maria Chavez also showed her skills both outside and inside, giving us a taste of her musical knowledge and dance floor moving skills.