In celebration of Black History Month, KEXP’s Alina Santillan interviewed numerous local and national African American artists about what Black History Month and Black Future mean to them. Ayron Jones is a national recording artist based out (and raised in) Seattle. He reflects on the Catch 22 of Black History Month, the spectrum of black artists that have inspired him, and furthering progress through recognition in the arts and technology.
Ayron Jones: I think when you when you talk to any Black American or black about Black History Month or something that honors a great black person, it's kind of a Catch 22. I think that a lot people really appreciate the fact that there is a spotlight on black history, but with that it kind of overshadows the fact that black Americans have been here since the foundation of this country side by side with everyone else. So to have a month of the year that's called Black History Month, it's ironic considering that it is also American history. So that's that's kind of the first thing, but it's also an honor to the fact that there is a month that recognizes the progress that we've made and the fact that there are contributions from African-Americans throughout history. The history of this country is also honor. So it's like it's a Catch 22. It's almost like Independence Day for black Americans when like, "Independence Day!" everybody's like "Barbecue this! Barbecue that!" and black people are like, "Yeah... All right. Independence Day..." you know [laughs]. So it's a bit of a Catch 22 but it's also something that... I always look forward to this month because it really brings everybody's attention to what black Americans are doing and black Americans are doing great things right now and they have throughout history.
The way I see it looking like is just the further progression of equality through things like the recognition of arts and the recognition of greatness and the recognition of things that we've done in business, on the recognition of things that we've done in technology and things like that. That is where I see black future.
America is a young country and it's still trying to figure out... it's still kind of got some demons to pull out the closet. And so when I think of black excellence, what I see is the further progression and the further recognition of the equality that we share with our fellow Americans and have since the beginning of time. So that's that's kind of what I see and it's already happened, I mean look at Beyonce and Jay Z. You know what I'm saying? They're amazing. I love them.
The first most influential artist, I think, the first exposure I had to anybody who I was just crazy about was probably when I was about three years old and that was James Brown and he was like the very first. And then there's Michael Jackson and personal mentor for a long time was Sir Mix-a-Lot. [He] did my first album. He taught me a lot about how to be an artist and how to record records and things like that. So he's a definite influence. The hip hop era with Tupac, you got Biggie, you got Snoop, you got Dr. Dre, you got N.W.A. I mean there are a plethora of so many different artists that have been so influential to me even as a rock artist. Being being a black artist growing up in the 90s, you could not help but be influenced by what you know a lot of the rap artists were doing and Prince and Lenny Kravitz. There are so many different people I can just kind of offhand just like name that have been so influential to my sound. So I don't know if I can just name one or two [laughs].
SassyBlack talks about Quincy Jones, debunking the myth that there's a lack of women producers, and how vast blackness really is.