Young Guru and Nettrice Gaskins - Young Guru, Nettrice Gaskins
From Katie Gentilello
Digital Media PhD student Nettrice Gaskins had the opportunity to interview with Young Guru and moderate questions on March 5, 2013 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in the Clough Commons 4th floor study area. Gaskins became interested in getting involved with this event due to her recent participation in the conference Alien Bodies: Race, Space and Sex in the African Diaspora (http://alienbodies.wordpress.com) at Emory University and her interest in the idea of Afrofuturism, which, according to Sanford Biggers (http://www.sanfordbiggers.com), is “a way of re-contextualizing and assessing history and imagining the future of the African Diaspora via science, science fiction, technology, sound, architecture, the visual culinary arts and other more nimble and interpretive modes of research and understanding.” “During Pressor Alondra Nelson’s keynote, who is one of the leading Afrofuturism scholars, I noted that ‘appropriating technology” such as in hip-hop production is Afrofuturism, thus, science fiction,” Gaskins says. “Music, art, and literature are expressions of agency that empower people who are often missing in mainstream science fiction to envision a different future for themselves. Abdul R. JanMohamed, an Emory professor and moderator at the conference, said that ‘Afrofuturism is about seeing the future as being a vehicle for creating a different present.’ So I contacted the organizers of the Young Guru event and said that I would love to talk about this ‘A-ha!’ moment I had.” The history of hip-hop and the art of audio engineering does have much to teach those of us who study digital media and how it influences creativity and culture. “Hip-hop production is at the intersection of creativity, innovation, and culture,” Gaskins explains. “Alondra Nelson wrote in her book Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life, that ‘by refunctioning old/obsolete technologies or inventing new uses for common ones, communities in many places have fashioned technologies to fit their needs and priorities. In the process, they have become innovators, create new asethetic forms, new avenues for political action, and new ways to articulate their identities.’ I think that if we study the aspects of hip-hop production we will find keys to engage groups that have low participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.” Young Guru, then, becomes an excellent person to ask these questions due to his experience in the field.