Words by: Elisteinar Tenga
Wyatt D. Stevens aka MomaReady is part of a new wave of artists taking the pillaged Electronic music scene by the scruff of its neck, and highlighting its Black, queer roots.
Black ideas, culture and traditions being appropriated is not new, especially in modern music where nearly everything hails from Black originators. Inspiration to a certain degree is flattering, but what has been made of dance music in recent years is a whitewashing to the extremes. Luckily there are counterforces: such as the growing, nascent Electronic scene in Brooklyn, spearheaded by artists such as Galcher Lustwerk, Sybil Jason, Kush Jones and AceMo.
What constitutes the roots of dance music, its cultural zeitgeist, rhythmic zeal and progressive ethos was engineered amongst the most marginalized: queer people of colour. This was the underground. Social gatherings curated sonically through the prism of ideas such as Afrofuturism. Bodies balancing on the depraved extremes of society, coming together in a covert fashion for healing through the dance. Sadly, this crucial foundation is lost both to newcomers and the industry alike, as these Black roots are almost forgotten and the continued efforts of PoC marginalized. That Kaytranada was the first Black artist to win best dance/electronica album at this year’s Grammys, says it all.
For many the adjective used in describing this music is escapism. Indeed it is a derivative function, but ultimately that’s an outsider’s view. Solidarity is what it really offers. MoMaReady captures this through his expressive, Black sound. One can hear the unabashed rawness driving his creativity. Through his albums, one can feel the somewhat transcendent reach of his oeuvre: as one of solidarity for his people.
This is what really makes his music ‘Techno’. Not in the sense of the exact subgenre of dance music, but rather in its fervent approach. His productions do take notes from many other subgenres such as Jungle, Rave and House. His 2019 full length effort Soft Hard Body is amongst his best work, amidst his large catalogue. He has an enormous output and is by no means a perfectionist, but that is part of the charm: you can literally hear the machinations behind his rhythmical ventures. This is the kind of playful, experimental angle that, without losing seriousness, is the stuff of magic and great vitality. As soon as Techno becomes an all-linear, tunnel vision type of sound it has lost its art.
What constitutes good Techno? The sauce lies in its unique outlook: a temporal soundscape that triumphs through its expansiveness and inclusivity. An outward looking journey that sucks everything else in, and elevates the dancefloor through propulsion. African percussive masters can be Techno, a Samba record can be Techno: that’s its power. Take the multiple tracks MoMaReady released with the same sample on various projects, the This Version May… series, where all the track names share those three first words. An excellent demonstration in the differing tone, grades of roughness and shades of flow all whilst upholding the ubiquitous thumping pulse.
Through the alias Gallery S, he has an outlet for the more personal, experimental and off-kilter productions. This year started with the LP The Many Hands of God under the Gallery S moniker, which proved an excellent, contemporary collection of rave soundscapes. His duo work as AceMoma with fellow Brooklyn producer AceMo are virtuous, intellectual works which are some of the most refreshing stuff you’ll hear out there. A must hear track of theirs is the behemoth ‘Hidden Memory‘, which really shows how artistic this scene can be amidst the homogeneity.
There is no denying that there are great DJs, producers and professionals who are not minorities – who participate in the culture holistically and drive the space towards greater things. Yet within explicitly seeking to reclaim the music’s Black roots, making music rooted in the Black experience and coming from a “Black place” musically – lies immense strength and beautiful music. In a world where Calvin Harris is really some White dude called Adam Wiles, who named himself something more racially ambiguous to boost credibility: we need Black artists like MoMaReady. Don’t sleep on him.