Sherbro Son

Stockholm to London

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Travelling from an emerging global capital to the OG one, I Stopped over in London for a couple days to meet up with Vamanos.  Stockholm was a great summer city, sunlight for 21 hours a day, good parties, beautiful people.  I love cities that have real summers and real winters.  People suffer through the cold to go mad in the heat!  The differences between Stockholm and London at least on the surface are pretty evident. It’s interesting for me to note different stages of cosmopolitanism going from Poland, to Sweden, to the UK.

One obvious difference between Stockholm and London, for me, is visible in the connectedness of the African diaspora in each city. London’s storied history with its colonies and mass amounts of people from everywhere create a more divided feel between different communities. Neighborhoods, pubs, streets, television stations can be dominated by one nationality or even ethnic group, and while it doesn’t seem like people are as explicitly segregated as in the states, culture pockets definitely exist and allow people to maintain strong connections to home. In contrast, Stockholm is a much more pan-African culture. While as everywhere, there still are groups of people who maintain their community and culture, it seems that public cultural events have a little of everyone. I think those loose ideas of culture would lead to a noticeable difference in the identity politics of 2nd and 3rd generation Londoners vs. the same group in Stockholm. In London it seems that youth in raised in the strong ethnic communities compete and push and mix vying for a bigger slice of influence in the well established, Grimey, UK Funky, 2 stepping, Drum Dub Bass culture. The identity of a Afro-Swede, and youth culture in general, seems much more fluid, yet to be defined, as the popular image of Sweden moves from pillaging horned helmet wearing Vikings to a welcoming diverse, social democratic, globally interested nation. (I went to a Viking museum and it seems that through all their traveling and conquering, the Vikings actually developed quite a taste for collecting objects and ideas from far off places and cultures.)

Jess DJ & JIB

Club Nile (African Union Edition) for me, felt like a warm hearted embrace. I linked up with Jib Kat a Ugandan DJ/MC living in Stockholm, and the great Miss DJ, a mixed, a globetrotting Ameri-Swede who holds her own playing from Dancehall, to African, to Hip Hop. The feel of the party was great. This was the Africa I knew growing up, and in a lot of ways continue to live in. It means people of diverse backgrounds coming together to celebrate the places that they left behind, and support each other in this new place they call home. The music is as diverse as the countries of origin of the party goers. The biggest tunes are always the most classic, so it’s necessary to know your stuff. The tune with the biggest reaction that I played was perhaps Bridadier Sabari, a slowly whirling ominous reggae tune, by Ivorian Alpha Blondy. Not your most obvious choice for a club banger, but it just goes to show, that in contrast to what I see as mainstream (fancy?) club culture, there’s a rooted, cultural element to the night. In contrast, during High Life at Sodra Teatern in Stockholm, the most important way to connect with the crowd was through classic techniques that club DJ’s have perfected throughout the years. The skill of the mix, and the presentation songs are what propel their crowd to let loose their bodies on the unfamiliar rhythms and sounds. Sebastian commented on my DJing saying it was almost like a house DJ, but not. Right now I’m okay with that definition of my music. Almost like a lot of things, but not quite any of them. A little of Sweden now added to the mix.

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