Damon Davis puts the "discipline" in "multi-disciplinary artist." There's no other way to quantify his reach, his work ethic and his vision in making art, music and film. After making waves as part of the hip-hop duo Scriptz 'N Screwz five years ago, Davis used his skills as a community builder and genre eraser to spearhead the FarFetched collective, a coalition of like-minded musicians heavy on experimentation and in love with collaboration.
But it wasn't until this year's LOA that Davis began releasing music under his own name. On the three-part album, whose first two "acts" have been issued online, Davis shows not only his musical pantheism but his interest and fluency in science fiction. Davis' narrative warps and weaves across space and time, using some Creole mysticism borrowed from his mother's Louisiana upbringing.
For the East St. Louis native, though, the album cycle is a piece of his belief in Afrofuturism and the idea of what he calls "alternative blackness."
"Black people do not get the opportunity to indulge in the future; the writers of sci-fi don't seem to think that we'll make it there," Davis told RFT earlier this year. "I think it's important for creatives to take back that idea of the future. You can make up your own world or country or city and live outside of this system that has been destroying you from day one."
Like the best sci-fi writers, Davis' Afrofuturism serves as a here-and-now commentary rather than as a form of escapism. His and Sabaah Folayan's upcoming documentary on Ferguson and its aftermath, Whose Streets, aims to address the region's racial divide in real enough terms. But with his LOA series, Davis spans space and time to tell his story. He's not looking at the way things are; he's looking at the way they could be. It's an insightful reverie that may tell us more about our city's problems than any nonfiction work ever could.