First of all, if you have not checked out the new 4:20 web series, then you are missing out on a cultural gift of impeccable Black artistry. You can watch it here. Within the web series, Khaldun Oluwa provides a deeper analysis of his artistic masterpieces.
Zana Sanders, the visionary behind the series, unleashed her creative genius once again in the form of a podcast – 420 DECYPHER. It features an audio version of the web series along with an extended conversational component, and it is absolutely magnificent!
Admittedly, I was skeptical about the podcast’s subject matter due to 420’s connotation in pop culture. After listening to Zana’s eloquent explanation of the concept, my initial skepticism quickly faded. Her and Khaldun have a candid discussion regarding the relationship between artistic expression and cultural identity.
The brilliance lies in how the hosts divulge the essence of their artistic endeavors. Their verbal exchange led me to ponder over how my own perceptions of Blackness have been affected by Eurocentric illusions.
The cleverness is further pronounced with their emphasis on art’s fundamental role of developing culture. In contrast, it can be used as a tool to weaken a culture.
Art’s inherent influence on culture is an essential philosophy for us as Black people to understand. Europeans have used it for centuries to perpetuate a wealth of toxic narratives in order to negate our existence.
The more we have been exposed to these narratives, the more we have internalized and infused them into our daily lives. They are a major contributor to identity issues that are so prevalent throughout the diaspora. However, as demonstrated by the hosts, we can also use art as a vital source to revive our community.
Our cultural resurgence can only be achieved though, if more of us as Black artists make an effort to reflect this principle within our crafts. Obviously, the creative means we all use to satisfy it is going to vary.
But, I have perceived that if the majority of us use our crafts to simply regurgitate the destructive narratives; then we aid in our own cultural stagnation. That makes it even more significant for us to study the origins of these narratives, and grasp their correlation to our oppression.
The dialogue reaffirms the urgency to stop depending on mainstream platforms to dictate the authenticity of the Black experience.
That requires us as a community to emancipate our minds from these problematic narratives, and willingly explore a creative realm beyond the prism of entertainment.
In reference to a valid statement mentioned by Khaldun, viewing art only as a means to entertain severely limits our capacity to think at higher levels.
The hosts are admirable with their sincerity in confronting these dense topics. They also acknowledge that this project is going to cause discomfort within the larger community, especially in regards to Khaldun’s artwork.
He portrays ideology that many of us have never been exposed to; completely interrupting our previous mental conditioning. I am also experiencing this internal conflict while trying to cleanse my mind of the accumulated whitewashed debris.
Yet, now I understand that this conflict is crucial to my own spiritual evolution as a melanin dominant being. With this realization, I view 420 DECYPHER (IG: @420decypher) as a pivotal platform for our community. It serves as a guide to constructing a new zenith of Black culture.