Yesterday I went sightseeing with Anna, one of my hosts here in Stockholm, and my friend Tehran. I was standing at the bus stop and got a nod from what seemed like an established in Sweden-African man, with his presumably 2nd generation Swedish son (the Swedish version of me and my pops!) Anna was surprised, and asked if I get that a lot. I said, “you don’t know about the Black man’s head nod?”
That’s Stockholm for me right now. Repping and connecting. Many people have been assuming that I’m from here, so perhaps I don’t look as strange as I did in Poland. I get smiles from people who seem to have similar backgrounds as my own. There’s this energy here with especially African immigrants that is still so fresh and foreign to me that I can’t quite yet put my finger on. Perhaps it has something to do with Sweden not having a crazy colonial history (like UK, Netherlands, Portugal, France, although I’m sure Swedish multi-national corporations do their share of damage) and they have no huge historically oppressed minority groups (like in Australia and the US.) Perhaps that would lend the struggles of immigration to be more based on cultural differences.
Saturday Night went great! Actually it couldn’t have gone better. High Life meets Ghetto Bassquake… shoot… High Life meets The Highlife… shoot… Ghetto Basssquake meets Ghetto Bassquake… meeting Sr. Vamanos was cool and we both rocked some solid sets. It was a long day, and yes, I managed to see the sun rise at around 2:30 am, a lifelong dream fulfilled!
I think the gig in Stockholm really kind of made me feel like I’m doing the right thing. Bringing my personal mix of global cultures over here, being aware that their is a similar culture brewing in this city, perhaps somewhat in the underground. Maybe I can help push it to the forefront.
The crowd on Saturday was mostly salt with a few flecks of cinnamon and pepper (vanilla ice cream with chunks of peanut butter and chocolate?) I don’t care about who the audience is as long as they’re dancing. This crowd danced. All night. The cultural exchange was happening on so many levels, and credit is due to the hosts, Sebastian and Anna. They are doing something I really admire. I think it’s easy for us to play this music in places where the communities expect to hear it, London, NY, San Francisco. But to have a successful night at a mainstream club, in a city that is still deciding what it means to be a global capitol, is impressive.
My experience here is really putting conversations about the global music culture in perspective for me (for anyone who’s been in a Wayne and Wax e-brawl before, Birdseed was there. He cut a rug!) I played Reggaeton, and they DUG it! I played Kuduro, and Coupe Decale, and Ndombolo, and Soca, and Dancehall, and Zouk, and House, and Reggae and Mambo Violento and the Dutty Artz Remix of Best I ever Had, and they DUG IT! Sometimes in the States people let their pre-conceptions determine what their feet are going to move to. It can be a frustrating attitude to try and play to. My goal at home is to bring the music that I enjoy and represents my background to the forefront, so I can have pride in cultural aspects that often times through process of immigration and assimilation get thrown out. I can foreground aspects of culture that perhaps I’ve had to “re-learn.” For me to be able do the same for someone else, here, who may be going through what I went through whether 1st or 2nd generation, gives me the greatest satisfaction.
Later this week I’m meeting with Jib Kat, who runs a club called Club Nile. It’s a night run by Africans for that home type cultural experience. These are the types of parties I grew up going to, and they’re the type of nights I play at Little Baobab in SF. I’m excited to see how different the experience will be.