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Saturday, April 22 • 4:15pm - 6:15pm
Chocolate Cities

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“We didn’t get our 40 acres and a mule, but we got you C[hocolate] C[ity],” George Clinton declares victoriously on the title track of Parliament Funkadelic’s 1975 Chocolate City album. Rather than wait on unfulfilled political promises, Black Americans were occupying urban and previously white space in massive numbers, their movement and increasing political power embodied on the track by multiple but complementary melodies. Bass and piano take turns keeping the beat and beginning new melodies, saxophones speak, a synthesizer marks a new era, and a steady high-hat ensures the funk stays in rhythm. The Parliament, its own kind of funky democratic government, chants “gainin’ on ya!” as Clinton announces the cities that Black Americans have turned or will soon turn into “CC’s”: Newark, Gary, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York. Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” public service announcement is broadcast live from the capitol, the capital of chocolate cities, Washington, DC, where “they still call it the White House, but that’s a temporary condition.”

Spurred on by postwar suburbanization, by 1975, the chocolate city and its concomitant “vanilla suburbs” were a familiar racialized organization of space and place. The triumphant takeover tenor of Chocolate City may seem paradoxical in retrospect, as black people inherited neglected space, were systematically denied resources afforded to whites, and were entering an era of mass incarceration. Still, for Parliament, like for many other Black Americans, chocolate cities were a form of reparations, and were and had been an opportunity to make something out of nothing. For generations, these chocolate cities—black neighborhoods, places on the other side of the tracks, the bottoms—had been the primary locations of the Freedom struggle; the sights and sounds of Black art and black oppression; and the container for the combined ingredients of pain, play, pleasure and protest that comprise the Black experience.

Four decades after Chocolate City, including eight years of the first African American president, what is the status of Clinton’s Afro-futurist vision of the chocolate city, and how does that vision play out in current music about and situated in chocolate cities? What is the sonic legacy of the Chocolate City? What does a chocolate city sound like today, or in many cases, what does a gentrified chocolate city sound like? And how does new post-place and post-genre music signal a rejection, revision, and/or continuation of Parliament’s Afro-futurist urban politics? This panel explores these questions and the relationship between the city, politics, and music with a discussion between Hip-Hop artists and scholars from three of America’s chocolate cities: Memphis, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia.

avatar for Marcus Anthony Hunter

Marcus Anthony Hunter

Twitter | | Marcus Anthony Hunter is the coauthor of the new book Chocolate Cities, which will be published by the University of California Press in Fall 2017. Having received his PhD in sociology from Northwestern in 2011, Hunter is the coauthor of the award-winning books Black Citymakers (Oxford University Press, 2013) and This... Read More →
avatar for Zandria F. Robinson

Zandria F. Robinson

Zandria F. Robinson writes on Southern hip-hop, the urban South, and Black feminist themes in the work of Black women popular culture artists. Her book, This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South is an ethnographic and pop examination of the intersections of race, class, gender, and region in Black identity. Robinson teaches sociology at Rhodes College, blogs at Read More →

avatar for Takima Darnell

Takima Darnell

Twitter | | Takima Darnell known as Phya Inc, is a Female MC and Event Curator from Brooklyn, New York. Phya Inc grew up in Bed-Stuy during hip-hop's golden era developing her lyrical skills in lunch rooms, cyphers, and open mics. Rapping is an art form that Phya utilized to express her social and political views as a young woman. A skill that... Read More →

Max Hunter

Max Hunter is an artist, musician, and actor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On December 3rd, 2015, he released his first album entitled (blackART). Since its release, (blackART) has charted multiple times on the U.S. hip-hop charts, being #117 on the top #150 albums at the time of release. It was also one of the top hip-hop pre-orders on iTunes during its Pre-Ordering period. It has been reviewed by multiple hip-hop bloggers across the country... Read More →

Marco Pavé

Twitter | | Marco Pavé is Project Pat meets KRS-ONE. Spitting an urban country consciousness with a confidence that could only emerge from coming of age as a Muslim Milllennial in North Memphis. As a rapper and songwriter, Marco Pavé appeals to a diversity of rap enthusiasts, from purists to radio lovers to hipsters, with a... Read More →

Saturday April 22, 2017 4:15pm - 6:15pm
Learning Labs MoPOP, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109