Fresh off the success of their BACCHANAL mixtape–a mash-up of Trinidadian hip-hop and West African rhythms—dynamic duo John Orpheus & Sarah Riegler continue their delve into the African diaspora with the afrobeats influenced BLACK STAR RISING.
The mixtape ranges from swaggy dance party anthems to reflective love poems to life. The aim is to unify the sounds that unify the diaspora community and express them with awareness, fluency, and freshness.
The lead single “WEY YA CALL DAT TING?,” is a dance party drippy with soca energy, trap hi-hats, and an afrobeats bounce. “SOWEDOIT” is another Pan-African dance floor anthem that would be equally comfortable in Accra, Kingston, or Atlanta. Throughout all tracks, John himself transforms from a conscious rapper, a dancehall toaster, a Trini troubadour, and a Sade crooner with flawless fluency--a reflection of his own journey through the African diaspora.
Not only has the crew been experimenting with sounds across the African diaspora, this mixtape features a collaboration across the Atlantic with the song “KHADIJAH,” a track produced by Bali, a young Lagos producer involved in the exploding Nigerian and Ghanaian afrobeats scene. The video for the single “WEY YA CALL DAT TING?” also features two young dancers from Nigeria (Olakunle Adewale and Derrick Okwelogu) as well as Ghanaian-Canadian dancer Percy Anane-Dwumfour.
The title simultaneously references Ghana (where Sarah went to school and learned many of these rhythms), Bowie's swan song album (one of JO's idols), and Marcus Garvey (father of Pan-Africanism). It also acknowledges the shadow side that lingers beneath all of us, as is most apparent on “WE ARE,” a track that tackles a dark subject familiar to many diaspora kids: abandonment with hope and triumph.
BLACK STAR RISING is not only a mixtape & video, but a movement, manifesto, and message. It's a call for (comm)unity, Pan-Africanism, and intersectional feminism.