By Sam Tornow, General Manager
[NON Worldwide; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Blackface”, “Ban Men”, “Broken Macbook”, “Petit Seige”, “Real Clothes”
NON deserves your undivided attention. The collective, headed by Angel-Ho, Nkisi and Chino Amobi is challenging societal binaries through avant-club music, radical messaging and militant aesthetics. Comprised of 42 NON “citizens” (including artists like Dedekind Cut, Mhysa and Klein), and therefore 42 tracks, their latest compilation is a three-part celebration of growth, blackness and acts as a call to political action.
For those who have been following the collective since its inception several years ago, NON WORLDWIDE COMPILATION TRILOGY delivers on the promise assured by the collective’s leaders. The sonic seeds that Amobi and co. planted on their 2015 compilation have grown rapidly and according to plan. Industrial sounds coupled with experimental club beats make up the bulk of compilation II’s runtime. Despite the formulaic design, each track is rich in texture and continues NON’s tradition of pushing the envelope in unexpected ways.
NON’s binary-shattering, borderless ideology is apparent from a glance at the tracklist: “Blackface”, “The Black God Cries Sometimes”, “AFRO PRIMITIV”, “Mother Losing a Child”, “FetalTissueTrafficking”. Harsh distortion and high BPMs lay the foundation for socially-conscious samples, instrumentation and titles, invoking both rage and excitement in the listener. Revolution, movements, education, change. Over the course of the trilogy, every artist takes their turn at the mic, preaching their ideas in their own unique ways, all while holding the NON flag high.
Specifically, Bonaventure steals the first the part of the trilogy with “Blackface”, an explanation of the dangers and history of the act. “Now I understand how blackface may not seem like a hate symbol like a burning cross, blackface started as entertainment, like if nazi’s had an improv troop,” a sampled speech explains over African chants and an acid jazz bassline. “It made it seem like slavery wasn’t that bad like the black people were having a good ass time.”
Other standouts include Klein’s ethereal “Brother”, John Glacier’s unsettling “Broken Macbook: Afflictions”, Nkisi’s dizzying “AFROPRIMITIV”, and Real Clothes’ midi-dance track “Anodyne”. Standouts isn’t a fair term, though. NON Worldwide has a deeper roster than ever. What started as a small collective has evolved into a prolific project that has a stronger message than what it began with. Even the newcomers come forth with a snarl, unafraid of the attention. Gita, a relatively unknown name on the roster, attacks the anti-immigration group ICE on “Ban Men”, which encapsulates the ideology of the group as eloquently as any NON veterans could have.
NON’s second compilation needed to be a trilogy. In the past, NON’s message always felt too large for such a small group, leading some to believe that the collective was nothing more than a passing phase. Years later, NON shows no sign of stopping. Both their talent and messaging become stronger and more cohesive with every release. No citizen is unsure in their endeavors. No citizen is concerned with failure. NON today. NON tomorrow. NON forever.