Monday April 10th saw Dope St. Jude and Kyla Phil, pulling up in Roeland street to scoop me en route to Dope St’s birthday dinner. We sped off towards Cape Town’s suburbs and a sanctified celebration of the life of this artist from Elsies River. Dope St. Jude gracefully glides through identities, wearing concurring crowns of artist and activist whilst embodying such potency it speaks to power and pleasure. An entertainer by nature, but also an educator through the proliferation of a persona that makes people wys about black girl magic and the inequalities of the beautiful and totally bogus racist Mother City.
With the gift of keeping it real while rapping, Dope St. Jude is currently in Finland with Angel-Ho, performing, and contributing to the conversation about alternative platforms and methodologies for knowledge production on a panel at In-between: Art, Education and Politics in the Post-Welfare state, a week long event hosted in conjunction with Chimurenga and The Pan African Space Station at Checkpoint Helsinki. Her new EP is set to drop in the near future and the album artwork is already out. The images reference archetypes of femininity and Africa, and while contributing to the discourse around representations of black women, they also contribute to the refreshing representations of blackness and Africa coming from African artists. Through using our heritage and beautiful brown skin to tell stories these images enter a pantheon of other artworks rewriting the meaning of blackness a la the Noirwavers who set 2015 alight with beautiful artworks featuring blackness and Africa in regal, opulent sometimes even religious regalia.
When you are born with dark skin and/or a vagina, your identity becomes something beyond you, potent in its ability to alienate and antagonise. These stereotypes are laid before us, having been produced and reproduced by misogynist white media and patriarchal white capital for centuries. But we are making a future where the truth about blackness, queerness, gender and Africa have representation in all spheres of experience; music, visuals, text, print, photography and so the list must go on until equality is won. It is this knowledge that artists like Dope Saint Jude propagate, and this is why her work and persona is so important. This reflection of the relationship between art and activism, emphasizes the role of creativity in contributing to changing ignorant and conservative perspectives. This is how artists like Dope St Jude are impacting our world, and it is a most wondrous and welcome change.