Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Interview with Chief Boima

Chief Boima is a Brooklyn-based DJ and producer who recently released a new EP via Dutty Artz titled African in New York. The EP showcases Boima's knack for remixing and updating styles of African music and making them club-ready for a new, younger audience. However, Boima is more than just a DJ. He recently traveled to Liberia where he compiled music from popular local styles of music gbema and hipco and released a compilation called Lone Stars via Akwaaba Music. Boima also writes frequently for the always poignant Africa is a Country while contributing to  the Dutty Artz blog and Ghetto Bassquake. If that wasn't enough, he is also getting his Masters in International Affairs at The New School in New York City.

We interviewed Boima for our forthcoming "Crate-Diggers & Remixers" show (out 3/29!). Below are some snippets from the interview.

On the goal of his music:

I want to put my cultural identity out there, so people who come after me, and are in the same position as me, don’t have to go through the same processes and can be really proud of where they come from. I think that this can have implications for how people see home, and how much people invest in back home or if people visit. How many Sierra Leonean kids came here at a young age or were born here and have never been back in twenty years, and how many of those people could contribute to the welfare of our country and are not because of perceived stereotypes?

On the responsibility of globe-trotting, crate-digging DJs:

I’m in this position of privilege where I have access to a passport that will get me across borders, credit, money, all these things. I have access to all this stuff, I’m at a level that’s financially, resourcefully here, and other people are resourcefully there. That’s like the world that we’re existing in, that were born into, we are born with these issues of privilege. But I think from my own experience from life, I’ve been able to identify those privileges, be conscious of them, and try -- in my interactions with people -- to be more conscious of them. I think we should be more conscious and think. It doesn’t mean we need to stop what we are doing or anything like that, its just that means we have to think about what we are doing, and try to be as responsible as possible. I never told anyone to stop what they are doing, and I still don’t tell people to stop what they are doing. That’s not what it’s about. Its just about providing more access and always having in mind that people’s voices that aren’t being heard. It’s about keeping in mind that the infrastructural problems that need to be addressed. And that’s it. I’m not like a militant anti- anything. I’m pro-more. I want more, not less.

On copyright law:

I believe that morality is based on judgment of individuals, about what they understand about right and wrong, and fairness between individuals. And I think that’s how we need to measure it. I don’t think that copyright is a measure of that. Because copyright is often in service of people who are way more privileged then anybody else. Copyright is more in service of corporate interests and more in service of government interests, then your average person in general anyway. So, that’s how I would answer those contradictions.

On Lone Stars & Liberia:

Monrovia is a very diverse place. So I was associating in the circles that was the young people who were into hipco and gbema music, and into going to the clubs. I was going to their local drinking spots, and I also went to the western clubs were they don’t play any Liberian music, places that actually have the funds to support a local music scene that aren’t supporting it. I was going to places where they have free entrances, places where these people are super-stars, but the kids that are frequenting these places have no money, and can’t support an industry. So I think that was a part of the motivation for me to want to get involved was because I saw that there was a disconnect between the money and the people, and I thought that hopefully I could start the ball rolling to change that kind of situation.

For further reading, Chief Boima recently had a roundtable discussion with Diplo and Eddie Stats via Okayplayer on the responsibility of a DJ sampling and using sounds beyond the states.
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