Meet Moor Mother, the Political Poet Spitting Blood With Her Synthesizers

We went to Philadelphia to spend a day with the industrial-noise rapper and producer giving voice to this generation's battle cry.

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Feb 6 2017, 7:15pm

Not all music has to be political, but all music should tell the truth—at least that's what Camae Ayewa AKA the Philadelphia-based rapper, poet, activist, and nearly uncategorizable "power electronics" artist Moor Mother believes. Though based in personal experience, Moor Mother's music also illuminates strikingly specific incidences of political and racial oppression. True stories about the oppression of women and people of color form the pounding heart of her Afrofuturist philosophy, and pulse through the darkly distorted sound she's championed on her album "Fetish Bones."

Recently, THUMP's Michelle Lhooq traveled to Philadelphia for Daily VICE to catch one of Moor Mother's charged live performances, held at a DIY venue smacked in the middle of someone's living room. Lhooq also sat down with the thoughtful artist at an Afrofuturist community center she co-founded, to discuss the drive behind her music and what President Trump's America means for marginalized communities.

"I'm not trying to forget that I grew up in the housing projects," said Moor Mother, speaking with Lhooq. "I'm trying tell all of the stories of the people that were there."

Take the line "I've got lead in me" from her track "By The Light," which is featured in the video. Moor Mother explained that this multi-layered phrase has a far more trenchant meaning than the five simple words suggest. After crises like that of Flint in Michigan, scientists discovered that lead poisoning causes anger and violence due to its deleterious effect on the brain, and could be connected to high rates of violent crime. So when Moor Mother says "I've got lead in me," the lyrics speak to both a racial and political problem, and her emotional, physical, and mental state all at once. All rapped over grungy, head-banging, hardcore basslines and noisy feedback, of course.

With the urgency communities of color feel to combat the anti-black, anti-immigrant, and anti-woman threats posed by President Trump, Moor Mother hopes that her music can help these communities regain agency and power. And on the crests of a renewed wave of protest culture, an audacious self-taught artist spitting blood with her synthesizers might be just who we need.

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