Chapter 8 – “Straight Outta B.C.”: Différance, Defness, and Juice Aleem’s Precolonial Afrofuturist Critique
Through a close reading of Juice Aleem’s concept album, Jerusalaam Come (2009), this final chapter offers a theorization of the continuities between Jacques Derrida’s concept of “différance,” the hip hop term “def,” and the field of cultural and scholarly production known as “Afrofuturism.” It examines the “emergent” possibilities of musical performance, using Raymond Williams’s categories of the “residual,” “dominant,” and “emergent” (as well as the “archaic”), to examine Aleem’s space- and time-traveling glocal and interhistorical critique. By articulating Gilroy’s concept of “anti-anti-essentialism” to Jacques Derrida’s concept of “différance” and Homi Bhabha’s “evil eye/I,” it arrives at a new theorization of hip hop performativity built on the hip hop concept of “defness.” Through a detailed examination of Aleem’s “emergent” album, the chapter suggests that where différance exposes the difference and deference of meaning, defness reasserts, if not definite meaning, the definitive agency of the speaker. In hip hop a def rapper is one who, despite and through his or her alterity, commands the art of speech, rendering the unprepared deaf. Defness thus presupposes that black performance is an immanent critique. Defness presupposes that most will not hear. But defness also presupposes that there are some things that cannot be taken away.
Chapter Keywords: Afrofuturism, Juice Aleem (Aleem Edmead), Jerusalaam Come (music recording), Big Dada (record label), Homi Bhabha, Jacques Derrida, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Egyptology, Afrocentrism, Birmingham, UK
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Colonializing “Moorish” album art for Juice Aleem’s Jerusalaam Come (thanks to Big Dada/NinjaTune for permissions).
Juice Aleem’s Jerusalaam Come on Spotify
Juice Aleem Playlist, “First Lesson,” “Straight Outta B.C.,” “The Fallen,” etc.
Juice Aleem, “Rock My Hologram”
Video still from “Rock My Hologram”: Eye of Horus Spacecraft
Video still from “Rock My Hologram”: Aleem releases the feather/quill to the ajna chakra of the Luminous Mesopotamian god mask inscribed within a pyramid
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