Lynne d Johnson



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09.19.03 04:55 AM

have you seen the superproducers?

My love for WIRED has waned a great deal since its early days. For one, it's that it's a Condé Nast publication now. For two, and given all the recent discussions about what it means to be a black blogger, in reading WIRED you'd think that black contributions to future culture and tech, in general was damn-near nil. Other than the superproducers cover featuring Timbaland, I think I can remember only two other covers featuring black folks, and one of them wasn't even real. As for the superproducers article, you've got Felix Da Housecat, Timbaland, and half of The Neptunes. The intro in the article states: "Now the production wizards themselves are rising up from the digital underground, armed with unlimited content and unprecendented control." Since my argument is that hip-hop beatmakers have held a symbiotic relationship with tech since day one, this list, even of recent-day "black" super-producers seems a bit low numerically. I could come up with a long list, but I'll just keep it short with King Britt and RZA, to name two. But maybe I'm being too black here, in my contention that is. Or maybe, I just have an overall problem with how WIRED gets down, better yet doesn't get down, with black folks in future culture, or tech in general.

Here are the other two covers that I can remember featuring blackness:

Jada made it in, not for playing Niobe in Reloaded, but for starring in (well not really her) the Enter The Matrix video game. And John Lee, earned his cover, no doubt for being the baddest (and I didn't say black) hacker to key on a Commodore 64. He later earned sparing WIRED ink for his notorious

You might ask what my beef is? Well I live in Brooklyn baby. And that was home to McLean Mashingaidze Greaves, who founded Cafe Los Negroes in 1994. It had a four-year run as a community oriented site, featuring original articles, audio and video files, and chat rooms. BK is also where Omar Wasow set up New York Online, which did receive a little WIRED street cred back in '95. If you don't know what NYO is, it was Omar's original Black Planet, minus the smut. Also, as Donald has mentioned, BK was home to the first black-owned cybercafe - owned by
Rebecca Walker
and Angel Williams. Having participated in these folks cultural productions, I have a stake in how blacks are represented (or not represented) in the world of computer-mediated communication and culture.

When I have met folks like John Lee, who is now making films, or DJ Spooky or Beth Coleman (DJ M. Singe), who both use computers to make music, or Adario Strange, or even just dialogue or just listen to all these folks on the afrofuturism list serv, such as Art McGee - I know there are "other stories to tell about culture, technology, and things to come." I want to be one of the people telling those stories, because I know I can't expect anyone else to tell them for me or to me.

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