NON and NAAFI both belong to the most exciting labels who have transformed music in 2015. And they have a lot in common. Both deconstruct and reconstruct music from an anti-colonial, anti-cultural-imperialist perspective, exposing the conceiled political charge of music by doing things differently in a way that challenges things we are conditioned to take for granted. Both revolutionise not only sound but also the whole of cultural surroundings of contemporary music culture, recontextualising familiar visual aesthetics such as sci-fi video games, technology and 90s and 00s fashion, coagulating into a style that can best be described as neo-futurism. Now, the two rising titans are crossing paths with a battle mixtape of mythical calibre.
NAAFI works in the context of Mexico and wider Latin America, with its multi-layered heritage of indigenous cultures, European colonisers, enslaved Africans as well as later immigrants from elsewhere. The problematic collective identity formation by generations of erasure of roots, conditioning internalised Eurocentrism, oppressive gender roles and class identities, fed and aggravated by the exploitative, destabilising influence of the United States, has created a unique leitmotiv in Latin American counterculture, where these conflicting realities manifest in the form of the surreal and ambiguous. This element comes back in much of what makes NAAFI’s style so powerful and meaningful in today’s rapidly changing world.
NON’s approach is Africa and the African diaspora, the meaning of blackness in the context of global oppressive power structures which are not limited to specific places but create shared black experiences accross the world. Where NAAFI’s expression is subtle and reflexive, NON’ futurism is assertive, self-confident and confronting, consciously playing with the aesthetics of the militant, the industrial and the apocalyptic. NON refuses to allow a future where the existing, mind-controlling global power structures that have continued to demonise and silence the voices conflicting with white-cis-hetero-male dominance for centuries, are perpetuated. In a world where almost any form of countercultural expression has been commidified by capitalism, the artists of NON manage to clasp you by the scruff of your neck and smash your face in the stinking dung of the reality of your privilege. This necessary intense humbling experience for the privileged comes along with an equally powerful, liberating invitation for the underprivileged to create the future.
About the titan’s battle, where the combativeness of NON is fused with the multi-interpretability of NAAFI, we only received this passionate, encouraging log message from the front:
I do not know how many millions of people are listening to me tonight, at home and at the front. I want to speak to all of you from the depths of my heart to the depths of yours. I believe that the entire population of NON has a passionate interest in what I have to say tonight. I will therefore speak with holy seriousness and openness, as the hour demands. The people of NON, raised, educated and disciplined by The pedagogy of oppression, can bear the whole truth. It knows the gravity of the situation, and its leadership can therefore demand the necessary hard measures, yes even the hardest measures. Citizens of NON are armed against confusion and uncertainty. The blows and misfortunes of the battle vs. NAAFI only give us additional strength, firm resolve, and a spiritual and fighting will to overcome all difficulties and obstacles with revolutionary élan.
MORO – ARREPIENTANSE (NON)
LAO – CARACOL HA (NAAFI)
ANGEL-HO – REMOVALS (NON)
OMAAR – IMAGINARY FRIENDS (NAAFI)
FARAI – THE SINNER (NON)
LECHUGA ZAFIRO – 130 VOLT SPATINA (NAAFI)
LECHUGA ZAFIRO – 130 MCK2 X (NAAFI)
RABIT – TENHI3 (NON)
LECHUGA ZAFIRO – ORQUIDEA T-1000 (NAAFI)
ZUTZUT – METELE (NAAFI)
NKISI – COLLECTIVE SELF DEFENCE (NON)
PAUL MARMOTA – AIRE (NAAFI)
CHINO AMOBI – DISTURBIA REMIX (NON)
LAO – MELTING SCHEME (NAAFI)