i am a third generation Black chicagoan, former music journalist, and phd candidate and berkeley Black geographies fellow at uc berkeley in the department of geography. my research explores how music and sound as racialized features of everyday life illuminate the ways Black chicagoans internalize emplacement, navigate urban to suburban migration, and confront the geographical redevelopment of urban-regional areas in the post-civil rights era. i examine the racialization of music and sound and how they are mediated, contextualized, and experienced through the everyday rhythms of Black urban and suburban life. urban renewal, post-war suburbanization, and other forms of geographical restructuring reshape a sense of belonging within Black communities and how Black people define Blackness through music, sound, and place-based orientation. my work demonstrates how the (de)reconfiguration of city-regions through racial capitalist development transformed chicago Blackness into territories of belonging and strangeness in post-civil rights chicagoland. i am also the founder of the Black geographies graduate student conference and co-chair of the Black geosonicologies research group with the center for race and gender at uc berkeley. my colleague robert moeller and i recently published our article, "Black scale: constructing "haunted" overpasses as relational methodologies" in the professional geographer.
before matriculating to uc berkeley, i graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa from mount holyoke college with a bachelor's degree in Black geographies. i am the first person to graduate with this degree. i also wrote an award winning honors thesis entitled: still sweatin'...mapping house and Black bodies: place-making In the Black house music and cultural community of chicago. my thesis explored the placemaking efforts of the Black house community in chicago and the ways they exerted their sociogeographic power and (re)claimed space|place through the formation of house music, house culture, and what i termed, "house geographies." before i pursued my phd, i worked as a music journalist under the name arasia magnetic for 16 years. i served as the executive editor of the popular hip hop blog kevingnottingham.com and as a freelance writer for hip hop dx, potholes in my blog, the chicago defender, soul train, and other websites. i have interviewed aretha franklin, common, outkast, chaka khan, bob james, and many other artists.
i am a second generation Black chicagoan and phd student in the african american studies department at uc berkeley. my doctoral research explores Black labor in gary—the former steel capital of the united states—after the great recession of 2008. during this time, there was renewed interest in working class discourse, however such interest focused on white, rural, working-class men, which largely ignored Black laborers and the economic precarity of Black communities in peri-urban cities like gary. my work fills this gap through an examination of large-scale shifts from manufacturing to a service based economy and how capitalist underdevelopment and neoliberal policies strip majority-Black, peri-urban cities of economic resources and access to meaningful employment opportunities. i investigate how these political and economic factors disproportionately impact Black working class men who work in heavy industry jobs in the calumet region of northwest indiana. i also draw from my own experiences as a former Black laborer in the same factories that i study. my goal is to understand how Black male laborers form community to organize for more equitable employment conditions while maintaining strong bonds in hyper-masculine spaces of socioeconomic devaluation and insecurity.
before berkeley, i graduated cum laude from the university of massachusetts, amherst with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. i am also a musician, producer, and composer who is part of the eclectic grammy certified production duo tensei with chris kramer. tensei's music influences, include: hip hop, house, soul, jazz, "library music," and electronic music among others resulting in the genre bending compositions that fuse our many disparate styles. while steeped in the tradition of classic sample based hip-hop production, we do not rely on records for samples. we play and compose most musical parts with real and digital instruments and are entirely self-taught. we have worked with j ivy, bilal, georgia anne muldrow, brandee younger, and makaya mccraven. our music has also been featured on the tv show south side (set in englewood on chicago's south side) on hbo max and the blacklist on nbc. to check out our music on spotify, click here. i also produced the chicago hip hop classic, "dennehy" by serengeti and work as a solo producer, writer, and composer with sony | kpm.
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