Autor: Richard Constantinidi
Etichete: Akua Naru, Alex Roenz, Christian Nink, Dig Flo Band, Dj Rafael Baska, Dr. Tricia Rose, Gospel Music, James Cleveland, John P. Kee, Julian Ritter, Leif Braeutigam, Nature Of A Sista, Queen Latifah, Shirley Ceasar, The Hip Hop Academy, The Journey Aflame, Wendy Milton, Whitney Houston
Having begun writing and performing rhymes in her youth, the New Haven, Connecticut born Akua Naru, began asserting her critical consciousness into a smart, original and political fusion of hip hop - at an early age. This progressive African-American is currently spending her time in Europe and helping develop Black Woman's history through her life journey.
Akua Naru has also teamed up with one of the nation’s leading scholars, Dr. Tricia Rose, author of the classic books Black Noise and The Hip Hop Wars, to lecture at The Hip Hop Academy in Hamburg, Germany.
For a third time in Cluj, at the 2014 Electric Castle Festival, CZB got an exclusive email interview with the artist.
RiCo for CZB: I've read that African Americans have been more respected and appreciated in Europe, than at home, since the 1880's; in what sense do you find Europe more fulfilling for your career in the 2010s than The United States?
Akua Naru: I would not say more fulfilling. The experience is just different. The culture is totally different so that obviously my experience here in Europe is going to reflect that difference. I can say that there are a lot more opportunities for independent artists working outside the United States. The internet has given many of us opportunities to be heard and to make connections. Not being in the States has helped me and others to gain global perspective, to tour and reach wider audiences.
RiCo for CZB: On your Facebook page, you wrote The Struggle, for Influences. Are you referring to: consumer slavery; political famine; the mass media promoting violence, sexism and racism - and the current education systems blocking the human inventiveness we are all born with… What was the first struggle you faced and what convictions are you fighting for at this point in your life?
Akua Naru: I was born a black girl in America… that's all I really need to say. We know what that meant at the time of my birth and what it still means today. That is why it is important for us to speak and be heard to have the courage to tell our stories and to speak truth to power
CZB: I haven't found anything on the web about your religious beliefs. In what sense do you believe in God?
Akua Naru: Absolutely.
I believe in God in every sense. There is definitely a higher power that governs all things.
My life is a testament to God's mercy and glory.
I believe that creating art using the gift that God has given me is a high form of worship. God is love. God is good all the time.
CZB: I read that your parents (especially your mom) are very supportive of your music career and poetry talent. What was their reaction when they found out you would be moving to Europe?
Akua Naru: My family has always been supportive. They are happy to know that I am happy. Regardless of where I live, if I am content there, then they are happy with that.
CZB: How did you first meet Dr. Tricia Rose and who had the idea for the two of you to team up for Lectures at The Hip Hop Academy in Hamburg, Germany?
Akua Naru: She and I met over Twitter. I had sampled one of her speeches on my song The Journey Aflame; this was a reference point for how we first got in contact. I had long been a follower of her work, her insight, and activism. She is such an inspiration. She was going to be lecturing in Hamburg and invited me to join her. Of course, I was honored.
CZB: What music artists did you first discover and enjoy, growing up at home?
Akua Naru: I grew up listening to jazz, soul, hip hop, r'n'b, but it was really Gospel music that I heard and fell in love with first. Shirley Ceasar, James Cleveland, John P. Kee, and so many others.. there is a wealth of so much that comes from gospel. I am really grateful to have had this as my first musical introduction.
CZB: Were you influenced more by music played at home or at school?
Akua Naru: I was influenced by all of it. School was a reflection of what was at home and In my neighborhood and I was influenced and shaped by all of it.
CZB: Where were you and what were you doing when you found out about 9/11; and how did you feel about the tragic event at that point in time?
Akua Naru: I was at school when I heard the news. I remember that everyone was in a panic. A lady came in the room screaming. Everyone was trying to find out what happened. There was panic. I was trying to contact friends and family in the city but it was difficult to get through since the phone lines were overloaded.
CZB: How did you feel when you found out Michael Jackson died?
Akua Naru: I felt that we lost one of the Greatest to ever do it. The world will forever mourn his loss.
CZB: How did you feel when you found out Whitney Houston died?
Akua Naru: I was saddened by this of course.
Whitney was considered the national treasure.
There will never be another Whitney Houston.
I remember being so inspired by seeing her as a young girl. She was tremendously loved by her people and will forever be.
CZB: On your website homepage, there is a photo of you holding on to hip hop pioneer feminist Queen Latifah's Nature of a Sista (1991) album cover. Why is that album special to you?
Akua Naru: Because it was not only a dope album but the cover is incredibly powerful. At some point, I came across that album when I was young and was struck by the cover. That Latifah was a black woman and a Queen was something I just needed to see. This meant a lot to me.
CZB: How do you feel about being invited to the sophomore edition of the Electric Castle Festival in Transylvania; do you plan to do something special for that event?
Akua Naru: Yes of course. We love Romania because the Romanians rock the hardest; there is always so much love coming from the people. It's always great being there. We are excited to play at Electric Castle and will definitely have something special for the fans that they don't want to miss.
Interview conceived by: RiCo
Many thanks going out to Akua Naru for her time -
and to Edmond Lenarth, Andi Vanca from the Electric Castle festival, and Olaiya Olatunji from The Urban Era, who helped make this interview possible.
Smooth tunes and acute lyrics are the distinctive characteristics of Akua Naru’s songs.
Her 2011 debut release, The Journey Aflame is deemed a classic hip hop contribution by hip hop and jazz critics and academics from New York and Paris to Moscow and Tokyo.
Akua Naru's D!g Flo Band:
- Christian Nink - Drums
- Alex Roenz - Bass
- Leif Braeutigam - Guitar
- Julian Ritter - Saxophone/Flute
- Wendy Milton - Keyboards
- DJ Rafael Baska - Turntables
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