Hip hop and Black art as philosophy is an incredible concept to imagine, intellectualize, and mentally and emotionally explore. Art is not always seen as a way of life or a new way of thinking, particularly the artform of hip hop and its powerful culture that has legitimately survived for over half a decade. Iconic rapper and thinker Chuck D has graced the world with a new book entitled “Summer of Hamn” and authors Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Chike Jeffers have imagined a world of beauty and thought entitled “African Art as Philosophy.” These books are wonderful examples of Black authors thinking outside of the box and creating a visual and conscious way of interacting with Blackness, how it functions, how the world sees us, and what our artistic output can do for a world that has discriminated against us and attempted to diminish our potential time and time again.

“Summer of Hamn: Hollowpointlessness Aiding Mass Nihilism” by Chuck D (Enemy Books)

In “Summer of Hamn,” activist, rapper, and Black-thinking Chuck D “takes on gun violence with rhythmic, inventive writing, and passionately raw art. He has long spoken out against gun violence, including how it intersects with rap and hip-hop culture. ‘Summer of Hamn’ is the bound journal Chuck D carried with him in the summer of 2022—a summer marked by a particularly high rate of gun death,” according to his new book imprint, Enemy Books. The Black intellectual pleas for the doing-away of gun violence in Black communities as weapons continue to rip apart our enduring communities. We should not just be enduring, we should be thriving safely and confidently as the future urges us to change the way we live in ultra-violent neighborhoods. 

“African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude” by Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Chike Jeffers (Other Press)

To know more, we must learn more. Black Americans and the global Black community will do well by arming themselves with philosophical knowledge as we grow and evolve into an educationally resilient class of people. “Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001) was a Senegalese poet and philosopher who in 1960 also became the first president of the Republic of Senegal. In ‘African Art as Philosophy,’ Souleymane Bachir Diagne uses a unique approach to reading Senghor’s influential works, taking as the starting point for his analysis Henri Bergson’s idea that in order to understand philosophers, one must find the initial intuition from which every aspect of their work develops. In the case of Senghor, Diagne argues that his primordial intuition is that African art is a philosophy,” according to the publisher of “African Art as Philosophy.”  

If we do not learn from Black thinkers of the past and present, we are doomed to repeat mistakes. Let’s think outside of the box, and explore what we can do and who we can be in the hopes of becoming a more powerful Black intellectual global entity.

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