Memory: Musical Tradition of Africana

Main Content

How important is memory to Africana? It is so significant that it spurs improvisation and upholds culture. A generation of Africana, children and grandchildren of Patterson-Petty’s cultural ethos and sensibilities that are yet millennial older, the Hip-Hop generation, values that memory and improvises to claim and retain it. The African drum, banned and denied to their ancestors, may not be readily available to them, but rhythms, the beat, and melodies of the ancients still burst out in their voices amplified and their hands, “scratching” on turntables, electronic drums, electrify in the call and response performance, thus, validate an Africana tradition anchored in the African philosophical base that says: I am because we are. They do sampling, a process of cultural literacy and intertextual reference using technology available, from turntables, through rhythm machines to computers, because the Black or Africana collective memory is at stake, because according to Daddy-O:

You erase our music
So no one could use it . . .
Tell the truth – James Brown was old
Til Eric B came out with ‘I Got Soul.’
Rap brings back old R&B
If we would not
People could have forgot[ten]. (Rose 1994, 89)

Not to forget the past, which is also the present and future, in face of onslaught on the very essence of Africana, not to lose millennial-old cultural literacy, a heirloom carried in the minds of African ancestors to the Americas, Patterson-Petty uses modern materials and techniques to retrieve, re-interpret, claim, and reclaim repositories of spirit and virtues of African/African American ethics and ethos with community in mind.