Azekel: Creativity, Race & Mental Health – The Highlights

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Azekel is more than just an artist and is stepping out more in line to visualize his lyrics after his special conversation concerning Black men and the issues surrounding mental health at the Tate Modern last night.

In case you need a catch-up, Azekel is an artist has released a line of singles as Chapters in part of his “Our Father” series. He’s already released the first two that is surrounded by the themes of Family (Chapter 1) and Mental Health (Chapter 2), which was shown at the Tate Modern. Accompanied with Laho Jebak, both men share and provide an open blunt conversation of the micro-aggressions and issues of masculinity and Blackness. It was a beautiful moment at the peak of their discussion, as two Black men share openly their opinions in respectable and conversational manner. Both Azekel and Laho Jebak share similarities when it comes to dealing with emotions in limited all-white spaces. Jebak asks whether Azekel has been in friendships/situations that ‘have span out of control…’ or have ‘…

‘In the music industry I’ve learned that one side is toxic in terms of power...’ -said Azekel ‘..from the background where I’m from everyone is open if they don’t like you. They tell you to go from A-B instead of A-Z, meaning that you waste your time going through A-to-B-to-C-D…” When Jebak asked whether Azekel shuts down the toxic masculinity once he suspects it, Azekel is pessimistic stating that these are “…all white spaces.”It’s difficult because you don’t want to be seen as the angry Black guy”, However, he adds that he sometimes has to “…live up to those stereotypes in order to be taken seriously…” 

Watching chapter is a beautiful masterpiece of symbolism and representation. All you see is Black men, in their visuals including Azekel himself just staring at the camera, portraying a sense of humanism in with Black masculinity. Ranging from all different ages and different looks, the action alone is enough to have a sense of empathy, whilst Azekel’s track “Loading” is played as the soundtrack. Azekel explains that the staring is a form of protest to be a counteraction against the aggressive spirit in which has claimed many lives (i.e. the transgression of a Black staring at a woman in segregated America which can lead to a death sentence). The staring emphasizes the message of “…look at us, we are here. Stare at us.”  

But why the reason for the title for the visuals “Our Father”? What’s the correlation? Azekel emphasises the belief that many legends such as Prince and Michael Jackson have been vocally stated; that “music is spiritual” as well as art. The three subject matters (Family, Mental Health, and Youth) are the three components that contribute to the making of a Father and also speaks personal volumes to Azekel as he’s also a Father himself. Speaking on the creative side of his work, Azekel believes in the sonics of sounds and music and the visuals are an influence of the ‘golden era’ or music. In the realm of heated discussions surrounding the influence of Trap and Drill Azekel believes the correlation between music and lifestyle and said it’s okay to explore other types of sounds and music. In other words, the singer is calling for exploration and advancing the horizons in order to have a music balance both in talent and in art.

“Music links with lifestyle It’s important to have a balance. So try a bit of this, understand that culture. Try a bit of that understand that culture. Rather than being in one kind of boxed place. You’ll end up being closed minded and not broadening your horizons.”

Echoing words of Azekel, Black is beautiful and it should be celebrated. Even with the differences and experiences that we have within our community. Remember what we metaphorically like to describe Black people as a box of chocolates in a collection of chocolate box…?“We shouldn’t run away from that…we should be able to celebrate our reality and the differences that we have,” Azekel states as he addresses the question of whether we should get rid of the racial term Black by an audience member due to the negative association with the word. “It isn’t progressive because it isn’t reality.” Jabek also chimes in by stating that “being Black is who you are…,” adding you can either have two choices to deal with stereotypes, you either “…run away from it or go into it further…” with the blunt message that you can’t avoid it, as this something that you’re being told both explicitly and implicitly everyday. “People, structures, and certain places will look at you in a certain way until you do things like this (points to the visual) where we change narratives. Until everyone is represented, then you will begin to feel comfortable.” Nevertheless, “…being Black here means so many different things in different spaces. Being Black here (UK) is different from being Black in Russia and being Black in Africa.” Therefore it’s important to “…find a safe-space for your identity.” 

 

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