MORELIFE: It’s That New Toronto Sounding Black Geographies

Authors: Ola Mohammed*, York University
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: Sound Studies, Black Studies, Black Geographies, Hip Hop
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Oakley, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Leaning on McKittrick’s claim in, “Mathematics Black Life”, that “there is a careful effort to show that if we are to name the violent displacement of black cultures, this must be done by both noticing and undoing the compulsion to inhabit safe and comfortable places within the very system that cannot survive without anti-blackness” (19), I think through how a grammar to the soundings of sonic Black geographies—particularly in Black Canada(s)—reveals the auditory as windows to and articulations of power relations wherein racial-spatial inequalities are reproduced and contested. Through an interdisciplinary black geographic/cultural studies/ sound studies praxis, I think through how music and sound function as a strategy to unsettle whitewashing logics of the sonic environment and transform the way we think about spatiality and power through tuning into “black absented presences” (McKittrick 22). Toronto has had a strong hip-hop scene since the 80s and in the past ten years, Canadian “urban musicians” have been at the forefront of the industry. I examine how artists imagine/create their blackness and locate it within the nation to the point that it has been dubbed “the new Toronto sound”. Artists such as Drake, The Weeknd, Tory Lanez, PARTYNXTDOOR dominate the industry but represent peculiar relations to the diaspora. Drake has come under fire for cultural appropriation, The Weeknd pays homage to his East African Roots, while PARTYNXTDOOR attributes his “sound” to his Caribbean ancestry. This presentation considers global blackness, its location in Canada, and what sound can tell us about black geographies.

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