Updated: Jun 21
I’m always seeking jazz. Jazz music is possibly the most beautiful of all music. Jazz music at its core is intuitive improvisation, it’s translating precisely how the current moment in time feels into sounds. It's like a documentary without the filler of words. In a world where everyone is speaking but failing to say the right things, Jazz reminds us there's a language larger than can be articulated.
When I was a kid my dad would pick me up from school & play old Sudanese jazz cassettes, I'd be sitting in the backseat, looking out the window making my imaginary superheroes race on the streets, with A/C blowing on my face, & I heard it. I hate to sound like a hippy but the horns spoke to me man. The saxophones & trumpets spoke to me in ways that the radio at the time couldn’t. There was nothing Taylor Swift could say that was better than Mohammed Wardi. I realized blues & jazz is a universal form of expression. I did some digging into my own nations cultural lineage and found various Ethiopique jazz artists like Mahmoud Ahmed & Mulatu Astatke. This music is global because it's intuitively true, in the same way that Hip Hop connected instantly when it came on the scene because they were intuitively honest. The real will always connect, everything else will perish.
Jazz was foundational because humans are at the early phases of articulation. Language has not evolved to the point where we can fully communicate & express what we intuitively know from billions of years of evolution. That’s why we need stories & abstractions, they are synthesized versions of a complete scope of life in this universe, being itself communicated. That’s what our culture is, our attempt at reconciling the inarticulable & unknown, with our waking reality, that’s what it has been throughout world history. In the post enlightenment West, reason, rationality, language & intellectualism have taken the place of intuition & thus vastly limited our expression.
The albums A Love Supreme by John Coltrane & Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis are historical landmarks, they’re evolutions on expression itself. Blues & Jazz musicians were the upright man in the evolutionary chart of art. That level of expression birthed a whole new world of expression, it birthed Hip Hop, Rock & Roll, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Jimi Hendrix, Basquiat, John F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Pink Floyd, Tupac Shakur, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, Andre 3000, Patrice O’neal, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Jean Luc Godard, Quentin Tarantino, Donald Glover, Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, Future, XXXTentacion, A$AP Rocky, Pusha T, Westside Gunn, Lil B, Lil Uzi Vert, Madlib, MF Doom, The Migos, & the concept of cool itself, all of it can be linked back to jazz lounges with black kids smoking weed without any formal music training & access to instruments dancing, having fun, & saying open the doors to let the Cool breeze into the small, crowded, sweaty smoky lounges, after a fire performance.
Words fail us in the pursuit of truth, that’s why our experience is muddled by so much miscommunication, because most of the time we don’t know what we mean to say, we say things, then search for rationales for why we said them, to try & convey what we meant intuitively, culture is able to give us that broader scope of understanding. Even if the Earth is not the Shell on a Turtle's back literally, the Turtle Island story provided the indigenous people of America a folkloric framework, that is a more sophisticated truth than can be articulated, that's what Jazz attempted to articulate.
Eastern cultures have a much better grasp of intuitive knowledge, honing gut instincts & aligning the energies in our body with the energies in the world, instead of relying on intellect exclusively. Our overly rational Western minds would like to think that the world is objective & physical, & our relationship to it was just concrete to concrete, but just like the jazz musicians intuitively understood, everything we do is an energetic exchange. Conversation is an energetic exchange, that’s why there are conversations that deplete you & conversations that inspire & energize you. A person's mood has the ability to affect you, you have the ability to sense when you might be unsafe, when it might rain, when chaos is about to erupt. Richard Feynman once said it takes a lot of imagination to see things the way they really are.
After hatching on beaches around the world, sea turtles undertake multiyear, epic migrations at sea. Then, the turtles return to the exact spot where they were born to mate and lay their own eggs. Scientists have long known that the turtles, like many animals, navigate at sea by sensing the invisible lines of the magnetic field, similar to how sailors use latitude and longitude. Other animals have a much better understanding of the intuitive information they receive, they almost exclusively act on intuition, humanity’s rational mind has overtaken a lot of the intuitive nature of our being, that's as, if not more, important than hyper intellectuality, & it’s something we need to individually hone.
Various people have different levels of intuition, in various different situations, just like anything else, but everyone has access to it. You'll hear many successful businessmen talk about following their gut, Einstein & Nikola Tesla have both spoken about this synchronicity that intuitively guides individual human life. Most of my best decision making has always been intuitive. Those moments when the path I follow is the one that seems most obvious to me, it’s the path that’s Neon’d in my vision for lack of better terms.
Culture has an important role in society, it shapes our ideological framework & how we interact with the world to begin with. Abstraction of fundamental truths through culture & storytelling is how we inspire entire groups of people to unite & make incredible achievements for long periods of time. Christianity & the widespread access of the bible & biblical stories inspired the world, but specifically, the Europeans for thousands of years & made them create incredible & beautiful things that advanced our world in unbelievable ways & continue to benefit & harm us to this day. The bible & the stories in it are an amalgam of fundamental truths that aren’t true in the same way a scientific truth is true, it’s more abstract & all encompassing of the totality of life experience on Earth & has various real life implications that have inspired the world towards great & terrible things, because those truths were limited by words.
Jazz musicians figured out that grabbing a bolt of inspiration & creating something from it is just hitting a note in the symphony of the universe, so they translated life into music. Sit by trees on a windy day, if you quiet your thinking mind & open your eyes, you will see the jazzy nature of reality on full display, the multiple layers of meaning & being itself with complex systems & species working together, wind blowing, leaves rustling, birds singing, bees buzzing, cars honking, different levels of reverb based on the size of the environment, all to produce a certain melody of sound, vibrations, movement & harmony. Think of the Universe as a beat & God as its producer, the universe is constantly in this vibrational sonic flux, it’s a vibrational entity we experience as physical reality by tapping into different atomic notes during different moments in time.
The notes we occupy in a certain moment could be happiness, curiosity, fear, love, anger & innovation, the emotions we experience are pillars of the universe that our energetic waves pass through at different moments in time. We perish & these pillars continue to stand. We're too finite to be able to experience & grasp the complete symphony, it would be too overwhelming, which is why artists provide these synthesized abstractions to help us map out the terrain of life.
That’s why Hamlet's battle with unrequited love still stands the test of time, I’m a Black kid from Toronto that was born in the 90s, I should theoretically have nothing in common with an old writer from 15th century England, but we have both tapped into the ongoing symphony of life & Shakespeare mapped it out for me in poetry, centuries before I was born.
The inclination to be an artist in this world is ancient & it's one that is constantly contributing to a long lineage of corrupting the youth of the world with coolness & that's dangerous, even Socrates was killed for that same feat. Artists know how to have fun. We know what sounds good, we know what looks good, we understand beauty, we like to think, we know how to inspire & influence people, & we know how to make things look good, we've always known & we know it intuitively, beauty is overwhelmingly obvious to us. That's not always beneficial to the current power structure.
Our culture makes us doubt our instincts & our nature. It’s this post-Freudian reality where businesses, public relations & advertising agencies understand we are governed by unconscious & irrational forces, and the goal has become to manipulate it & control us on a mass level & create a culture of consumption, & in doing so they make us doubt our instincts & intuitions, in order to be subdued & blindly follow orders. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our world. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.
Artists are free spirits that can't be controlled by things like wealth, we don't care about power, we love having fun. We know how to have real fun, we understand beauty, fun to us is producing & experiencing beauty. That is the condition of the artist, it feels like being an alien in a world where you're supposed to care about power & status, we are the most productive nerds in the world because beautification comes to us intuitively, it's what we naturally do to pass the time & it’s always so weird & futuristic that older people fear it, hate it, & label it degenerate art & then younger people understand, love & copy it.
That spirit runs through the veins of the post jazz artist, it’s in how we conduct ourselves in the world, our aspirations all come from this intuitive understanding of beauty & need to abrasively express the truth that is mirrored in all of the great jazz performances.
Creativity is a superpower, artists are superheroes, art is magic, experiencing transcendent art is a spiritual experience & we don’t know why any of this is true. We live in a world that is powered by ideas, where culture is capital, intuitive perspective is the most valuable tool & resources & access determine how we express our perspective, but when an industries sole goal is profit margins, or a government has different agendas, they dismiss & devalue the necessity of culture for the human spirit, evolution & advancement, outside of mass production & propaganda.
Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups. We have no clue where these things come from, we just know that artists bring them forth, & throughout many cultures around the world artists are viewed as mediators between the spirit realm & the conscious realm, which is a great way to think about it.
When culture is commodified we forget what culture is, it becomes this arbitrary thing on the outskirts of our day to day, but it influences & impacts us all the time. I listen to music all the time, I am always listening to music, if I’m not listening to music, I’m on my way to listen to music. Great music is transformative, it's more true than material reality. When the world was open we were constantly in malls with music playing in the background, at concerts, at parties, in movies, but we take it for granted. What does it mean that Faneto by Chief Keef played and the floorboards of a college dorm room broke because kids were dancing so hard? What is that effect? If it’s simple, why can’t everyone produce it?
That’s because it’s not simple. Artists are at the intuitive forefront of the consciously unknown, the inarticulable, which is where culture comes from & what makes humanity advance. Artists are born with a unique understanding of humanity, their minds synthesize the totality of human experience, they make sense of chaos, it’s a gift & a burden.
Modern Human beings like to think of ourselves as outside of nature but we’re embedded deeply in it, & none more so than artists. Artists stand at the forefront of that orchestra & act as mediums for this thing we call culture. Culture is a grouping of revelations for lack of better terms.
These genres speak to intuitive truths that are represented in broader scopes of expression, outside of genre. When I look at a Basquiat I can feel it, I completely understand where he was at in his headspace as a 20 something year old black person in America, I can feel it through the work, I can feel Bob Marley's Catch A Fire, in the same way I can feel Wise One by John Coltrane or Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix or The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, they all speak of directly inarticulable universal truths.
That’s the essence I want to tap into every time I express myself. Expressing is easy. Expressing ourselves is the easiest part of the whole thing. Artists are at the intuitive forefront of art & culture, we are connected to the source of all creativity at its highest quality, globally, it's just everything in the bureaucratic reality outside the actual expression aspect that makes things difficult.
Firstly, the world is always in a state of turmoil & it becomes difficult to create intuitively instead of creating intellectually & politically. Now is a beautiful time, millions of youth are exploring the arts & beautifying the world, yet again, but just like the beginnings of jazz, its special because it’s a bunch of pothead kids getting money to go places & make stuff, it’s a beautiful time, & the world around us can often force us into abandoning intuition for intellectualism & activism. It’s positive to want to make changes in society through your art & if you are compelled to do that through your art, I urge you to do so, but remember that you’re allowed to have fun too, all you need to do is express your intuitive perspective.
Artists by nature are sensitive people, & there’s a lot going on in the world, & we're constantly consuming information, transmuting that into your work can help, but many people feel an obligation to make political art in order to make what's deemed "important work" based on the current status of our world, but you are allowed to make the same teeny bopper songs as Olivia Rodrigo & Katy Perry. You are allowed to go to Paris & have fun too, you're allowed to see things & explore spaces. Fall in love, get heart broken, travel the world, do dumb things. There’s a myth that says every person that isn't speaking out on social injustice is somehow not for “the cause” but those aren't the only ways to impact society. Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters is as impactful as Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday, I love listening to Lil Yachty & Kendrick Lamar, they serve different purposes with their different intuitive idiosyncratic perspectives.
Artists feel different feelings in different moments based on circumstances, Dave Chappelle’s 8:46 was jazz but it came from pure rage, it was nothing like the humour & levity of Chappelle's Show. I have felt those moments of rage, I have created those moments, you can look through my writings & music. But those aren't the only feelings I have. Sometimes, I just want to play jazz & dance, sometimes I just love writing words, sometimes I wanna make a painting because I like how the colours look, I’m an artist & I want to figure out how to play for life through my intuitive beautification process.
Jimi Hendrix music was revolutionary & important without needing to be political. You can have fun, & continue to corrupt youth with beauty & culture, & philosophy, music, science, poetry & art. You don’t have to make a movie about police brutality. You can make that weed movie you & your best friends came up with, I'll watch it. You can make cartoons & you can make silly performance art, your work does not need to be political, it doesn’t need to represent anything, stop stressing yourself out by trying to end racism, you stupid, brilliant, creative revolutionary. All you need to do is express your intuitive perspective, & broaden your horizons.
Secondly, resources & access are a determiner of how we express our perspective. How much great talent goes unapplied because of a lack of access? Jazz only began because there was enough funding in music programs in schools to get kids instruments, & that went away when the funding was removed. The only reason Hip Hop started was because kids stole DJ equipment during a blackout in order to throw parties because they didn't have enough money for equipment or resources. That's why we need to broaden our horizons. Kanye West is always talking about being relegated to one source of creative expression due to various systemic barriers that prevent artists from expressing themselves in different mediums & outlets in our world of specialization. He's only now beginning to design architecture & planes. What if Kanye starts the game off as a billionaire, does he make Hip Hop beats or does he start off in industrial design crafting Electric cars & Rockets?
Say Bill Gates is born as a black kid in Chicago, does he make Microsoft or does he start making a rap song? I’m not just talking about social mobility. Perspective is the most valuable currency, people with the most impactful perspective communicate their perspective through the tools they have at their disposal. Nas had a gifted perspective he displayed in rap as a 16 year old kid in New York, if Nas had billionaire parents & access to more resources, does his perspective go into rap? Not downing rap, I believe Illmatic is a cultural landmark, but how much of his intuitive perspective can add value to the broader world in different mediums? How many great perspectives are constrained by a lack of resources, access & information?
Yesterday I watched a documentary about smelting iron from ore by a smith family in West Africa. The procedure is insanely complex & seems extremely painful in sweltering heat while working with fire & hot metals in the middle of a desert, yet the craftsman displayed a level of bravura, ingenuity, attention to detail & created an axe from nothing, it was incredible. Put that guy in a different circumstance with more access to resources & information, what does he do?