Music Issue 2012
Rituals & celebrations
Talking with the visual and auditory freedom fighters of the Black Opera
Published: November 7, 2012
Sensu: It's always an honor to be around such a brilliant mind. Deepak Chopra has continually supported us. We consider him family.
MT: How did the visual element come about in TBO's shows? What do the characters represent?
Sensu: Our goal is to match the vibe of each audio demonstration with a look that suits it best. Much of our visual presentation is to be credited to Kensah.
Kensah: Our goal is to paint a picture. We are auditory impressionist artists. Live shows and videos each are a canvas on which we are able to engage our audience in the rituals and celebrations of our tribe.
Nokbai: Through all of our visual presentations, TBO and the entire Black Operation are able to express our ultimate and most important goal, which is freedom.
MT: Why do you call your records "audio demonstration" and your videos "video demonstrations"?
Kensah: We are creative freedom fighters. We demonstrate for our cause through our artistic pieces.
Nokbai: Our audio, video and visuals all have a simple face value and a hidden complex meaning. Each one of our creative works start with a direct intention that only a chosen few actually ever figure out. These chosen few are the TBO Enlightened.
MT: I've heard rumors that the members of TBO are Majestik Legend, Black Milk, Buff1 and/or Ro Spit. Is any of that true?
Kensah: Speculation has been one of the most rewarding elements to the TBO collective. Who we are is not important. What we do, what we say, and who we represent is where the attention should be focused.
Nokbai: We are all of them. We are Black Milk and Magestik Legend. We are Buff1 and Ro Spit. We are Tupac and Biggie. We are Malcolm and Martin. We are Obama and Romney. We are Shaq and Kobe. We are Prince Akim and Semi. We are Jay-Z and Nas. We are Warhol and Basquiat. We are one.
MT: What Detroit music are you digging right now?
Sensu: Detroit has some amazing creators. We've discovered in our travels that Michigan as a whole is just brilliant. We've been listening to Jack White, Nick Speed, Mayer Hawthorne, Boldy James, Danny Brown, T. Calmese, Clear Soul Forces ... the list goes on for eons. Waajeed is creating some great art works from his musical experiments. House shoes has a solid record out too that music lovers should support.
Nokbai: Recently, we've gotten into a couple of the more known Detroit trend-rappers. The ones talking about high fashion this, designer drug that. Makes for an interesting perspective hearing the stories from these guys. What a life.
Kensah: Our musical preferences extend larger than the city of Detroit. However, Detroit has its own lineage, and in a way, it's own King Legend story.
MT: Do you see any precedent for what TBO is doing with hip hop? Are there other hip-hop artists who inspired the project?
Kensah: We are inspired by life, lust, love, peace and war. Music plays a part in all those things. We're living beings, all living beings are influenced. It's what you do with that inspiration that sets you apart. We are life imitating art imitating life. Everything is inspiration. Nothing is original.
Sensu: It is possible that our art is inspiring other artists, actually. We are here to uncover a saga and lineage that was all but lost. In the process of doing so, we see others studying our story and embracing it (even implementing it) into their own methods of creation.
Doug Coombe writes and shoots photos for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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