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Tavia Nyong'o

Tavia Nyong’o is is a writer and teacher, and the author of two books, The Amalgamation Waltz (2009) and Afro-Fabulations (forthcoming). He has been attending EMP/Pop/MoPop/SyFy con since 2005, when he presented on the British punk band The Homosexuals. His first concert was the Bad Brains at the Latin Quarter in Detroit. Mosh down Babylon!

"Freedoms FlightEnlightenmentAwakeningand Extinction in the work of MeShell NdegeOcello"
He had his back up against this artist the minute he was told by non-speakers that her name was Swahili for “free like a bird.” It wasn’t, but the confabulations of an African tongue with a pounding diasporic beat awakened him to sound of the 8-track back in the day anyway. Sold as the first artist signed to Madonna’s record label, and to this day most widely known for a regrettable but infectious “Wild Night” with John Cougar Mellencamp, MeShell NdegeOcello’s albums of the 1990s, he would now like to argue, were the musical and sonic corroboration to the mood and tenor of Saidiya Hartman’s influential works, Scenes of Subjection and Lose Your Mother. What does it mean, he now wonders, to propose the alter-soul music of MeShell NdegeOcello as black feminist philosophy? How do we hear the full spectrum of voices in her songs — masculine, feminine, and androgynous voices — as grounded in a heretical departure from all forms of normativity, hetero or homo? He traced the artist’s passionate musical migration through Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and beyond, searching for signs of black sonic enlightenment, ghetto youth awakening, and, most incongruously of all from the , the extinction of the self that remains — like the Swahili for “free my heart so my soul may fly” — the untranslatable heart of nirvana.