Mi friends: hello to another strong month of work, play, and candle lighting. It's November, so we all need this month's set to be warm and toasty. We've got just the prescription with a set by DJ/fashion icon/spirit rider V (Victoria Johnson). Whether you're using this set as your new heavy blanket or a trip to the sweaty dance floor, read on to learn more about the artists, the songs, the art, and more.
Johnson's story begins in and in between Dearborn, Michigan, and Detroit. "We moved around a lot, and I attended a lot of schools when I was in elementary school. I would definitely say that where I lived influenced my music taste. Being black and having parents who were raised in Detroit means that I grew up listening to Motown and gospel a lot when I was young." That's how we hear all her influences right at the start, with Etta James, a Count Basie solo, and Jill Scott. "My parents were also a huge influence on a lot of the older songs. They really helped shape young Victoria’s music taste."
Moving to Ann Arbor to attend school opened up avenues for discovery through friends, dancefloors, and long car rides. "I find music from so many different places and people. A lot of the newer artists featured in this mix came from me searching for black women and specifically black female rappers to listen to." Once instance is Kelelea's Let Me Know remix, which sees the likes of Princess Nokia, Junglepussy, cupcakKe, and Ms. Boogie all on the same song (!!!!). "The first time I heard Kelela’s Let Me Know remix was actually a few weeks ago! She dropped it as a single from her remix album and I immediately fell in love with it. She features some of my favorite female rappers, so of course I had to play it.
"So many of my friends have phenomenal music taste and I’m constantly following their Spotify playlists and asking them what song is playing whenever we’re all just hanging out." This is a great note too — never sleep on what your friends are digging, whether it's on Spotify, Bandcamp, or their recent digs.
Techno also began for Johnson was she I was young. "My dad also DJs, and when I was younger I remember hearing him play his favorite songs. My mom hates it though, so as a kid I kind of internalized that. But when I came to college, a strapping young lad named Daniel Sharp (aka Endash) said that I HAD to learn how to DJ, so that kickstarted my own techno journey. I’m drawn to how it is able to keep people moving and dancing. I love dancing and love being lost in the music and techno has the ability to transport me without fail.
"For me techno sounds like it was made for people who are in search of a community. No matter who you are, how you identify, or where you come from techno brings people together. When you’re on the dance floor lost in the crowd surrounded by everyone, the pounding bass connects us all."
And for her mic dropper: "I LOVE Y'ALL LETS MAKE THIS SHIT BLACK AND QUEER AGAIN"
*~.~*~.~* LISTEN *~.~*~.~*
*~.~*~.~* LIST *~.~*~.~*
Etta James - Sunday Kind of Love
Count Basie - Shiny Stockings
Noname - Casket Pretty
Moses Sumney - Make Out in My Car
Kali Uchis - Coming Home
Solange - Cranes In the Sky
Childish Gambino - Redbone
Erykah Badu - Next Lifetime
Jill Scott - Exclusively
Junglepussy - Pop for You
Masego - Small Talk
Ravyn Lenae - Recess
Princess Nokia ft Wiki - Saggy Denim
Baccara - Yes Sir, I Can Boogie
Kari Faux - Facetious
Ari Lennox ft Cozz - Backseat
NoName, Ravyn Lenae - Montego Bae
Amy Winehouse - Valerie
Kelela ft Princess Nokia, Junglepussy, cupcakKe, Ms. Boogie - LMK (Remix)
Chance The Rapper ft Childish Gambino - Favorite Song
Chic - Le Freak
Scissor Sisters - Let’s Have a Kiki
Azealia Banks - Idle Delilah
Cakes Da Killa - New Phone (Who Dis)
*~.~*~.~* LEARN *~.~*~.~*
V's mix is paired with the foundational work SHAKEDOWN by Leilah Weinraub, which in 2017 systematically shattered the world by showing 15 years of documentation of Shakedown, an all-black, all-lesbian strip club party in Los Angeles. Weinraub's piece follows the stories of its heroines Ronnie-Ron, Shakedown's creator and emcee; Mahogany, the legendary mother of the scene; Egypt, Shakedown’s star dancer; and Jazmine, the Queen of Shakedown. Blurring the lines of documenation and active participant, Weinraub's work raises questions of the queer black community's desires to conform, break, and reconstruct gender, sex, family, and capitalism. It's black, it's queer, and it's here to teach—just like V. Oh, and Weinraub is one of the minds behind HBA—an experimental fashion line that nods to V's own experimentation with fashion ;)
To learn more about Weinraub, head here.
To keep up to date with V, head here.