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His Name is Robert Springett
Now you know something about Afrofuturism.
Some years ago I entered one of the many Facebook derbies to grab the attention of my real and virtual friends. As usual I overthought and over produced. The entreaty went a little something like this: Without any words, just place a picture of your ten favorite albums over the next ten days, and then add a friend to the chain. Ugh. I hate chain letters, but I do love talking about music and I don’t like the conceit that I can just put an album cover and assume you know what it is or feel the same way I do about the music. The better subject was “The Music That Made Me.” OK now we’re talking. You can read that at my old blog here. In fact, I encourage you to read the whole damned thing. It’s only about 9,741 posts long. To all of you who contributed thanks for the 36,075 comments and 1.5 million views. I guess I really am a writer thanks to you.
The first album that completely blew my mind was called This is Madness, by the Last Poets. I was about 10 years old. If you give it a listen, you’ll quickly understand why. But the art!
I stared at this album cover for hours on end. All the lyrics were on the other side. There was nothing like it anywhere on the planet in 1971, but there it was. And there was more, but I never made the connection to think about the artist who did it. His name is Robert Springett and you can’t find him on the internet. At least I can’t. You have to pick up a trail of Afrofuturist stardust and follow the precious sparkly crumbs.
You should be able to retrieve and download these from here, but I want to find the man. I want to see the inside of his studio. I want to hear his interview. Everywhere I go online there are dead ends, redacted playlists and lo-fi mumbling words attempting to draw a straight line between Miles Davis, George Clinton and Sun Ra.
The realest Afrofuturist I ever met went by the moniker of Xavier Moon, but his actual name is Craig Nulan, out of Kansas City, no less. He is the most fabulous syncretic autodidact the world has ever ignored. His blog is called Subrealism and he and I have been jousting and joshing around the subjects of The Struggle for decades. I have gone all practical and I don’t even know if I can approximate the way he thinks any longer. You could think of him as a spectral Nostradamus whispering Eastern Orthodox prayers into the ear of George Clinton. I need to get his ass on wax, or whatever it is that remains semi-permanent in this world wide miasma of taggers on the rented properties of Google and AWS.
In the meantime I will give thanks for finding the first footprint. The name of Robert Springett which may yet yield a path.