One of my favorite things about living in the city are the sounds; the rhythms. The way in which patterns weave together only to fall apart again. The bassheads booming, rolling up and down the street, while we’re porch sitting with the kids on a Saturday night.
Summer. The crackled call and response between the backseat bass and blown out backyard stereos blaring over the leaf blowers. The un/holy gospel arising from the cacophony. Whenever my ears reach out to a rumbling on the horizon my heart leaps, smiles, smirks, eyes close, listening deeply. Taking it all in. ‘Life in all its rich complexity’ or something the old man on the mountain would say.
With respect, Black culture born, hip-hop, replicated and amplified. Copied in the suburbs sure, you know it can happen anywhere. Bassheads, rightly so, come in all shapes, sizes, skin tones. But for me, nowhere is it more meaningful, more beautiful than when the knobs are broke off past ’11’ by young Black hands. So mote it be.
I see buffalo stance, not fashion, not trend, but soul survival. Powerless manifesting power, Paulo Freire, punk rock, raw industrial, metal horse noise. The rumbling remembrance of chains breaking, rolling, bouncing, bumping criss-cross all along the fields of hearing. Hope in every beat, beats blurring, the more crackled the better.
May the bassheads protect us, the drag racers defend us from those who would twist, fold, manipulate and further homogenize this fucked up urban paradise. Anything that strikes fear into those who would resurrect Black Bottom after burying it twice. Point bass at the Becky’s and their banks that prey upon basement fire, post-bankruptcy blight. That’s racist! Which part? You’re right.
Brigades of masked motorcycles, jacked up rides with rims rollin’ roundabout, weaving in and out across lanes, oh my! Love it like I love seeing black bow ties with sweet potato pies and The Final Call at the crossroads because it points at something we can’t know. This rumblin’, micro-rioting, a movable feast of ‘these are OUR streets’. A mental blockade on displacement, a grassroots game on gentrification. Black men with bass wildin’ to some white eyes. We’ve killed for less.
So yes – ‘Alhamdulillah, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Dios, Ma’at, Jah Rastafari’ – Baduism, anything, protect them from us, from those who look like me.
Pirates sailing, bass cannons blaring, flags flying, fists flailing, heads noddin’ against genocidal systems calling for proactive policing on the Black ‘terror’ in Black territory, Black bodies, Black streets, that we occupy. As if million dollar bike lanes, bulldozers, bought-out block clubs, services cut to bones, water shutoffs, mass evictions and militarized malicious mostly white militias were not a thang. The Thing.
Let the bass drop, crossbones style. Let those of us who would lose some sleep. Let freedom ring and rang. Let the youth flex, get the full context of where you live. Let our ears bring our eyes to see the codes through the rumbles and the bumps coming from the street. Who is being shook? Trace the vibrations to their root and you’ll get to where the violence and the terror really lay and lie. Who are the most dangerous people to many on these streets? You and I.
William S. Burroughs, Hassan I Sabbah, Spinal Tap, Erykah Badu, Cat Power, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This piece is included in Eden Bloom Eschaton Life