The Social Dig: “The Revolution Won’t Be Televised”


Chanell Noise

I know we’re a couple of days into April but if I could just rewind: I took great care to listen to talented women during March (AKA Women’s History Month) and it was pretty uplifting. There are ladies speaking volumes via their music and Baltimore’s Joy Postell is one of them.

Postell’s debut album, Diaspora, dropped in November of 2018. Everything about the album is stunning: the cover, her voice, the lyrics and especially the production. Everything about the album and its rollout last winter was also incredibly educational.

Diaspora in its literal sense means dispersion of people from their original homeland. In this case, the album title references the African diaspora, the dispersion of Black peoples throughout the world and their respective cultures. Diaspora’s cover is stunning because it captures so many pieces of the spread: Postell’s nike sneakers and jar of blue ‘diaspora’ hair product holler African-American. Her cropped hairstyle and the foliage tug at images of West-Africa. Her dress and gold accents are reminiscent of North or East Africa.

Postell’s ability to capture the diverse pieces of African heritage don’t just stop at the aesthetics. Diaspora’s sound is diverse and bound by cohesive themes of Black love, suffering, enlightenment and reflection. The album opens with a smooth interlude, Intro (Know Your Roots). It plays like a soulful infomercial: “Know your roots with Diaspora,” says the male-voice over the jazzy instrumental.

The closing song on Diaspora is much different. Free Black moves along quickly in dance-like fashion and is punctuated with Postell challenging listeners to “Raise your consciousness,”.

“I’m Black and proud yeah yeah, I’m Black and proud- I’m Black and loud yeah yeah, I’m Black and loud,”

Diaspora gets high marks for both musicality and creativity. However, the clever cultural work that Postell puts into Diaspora is what makes this album stand out. Her extended metaphor for the product “diaspora” is witty. Listeners are able to hear a pitch for the product, the story of Postell presumably before and after using her product ‘diaspora’ and the eventual testimonies from those that used the product and gave positive reviews.

There are clear benefits to getting in touch with one’s roots as Postell posits. Black people in urban environments especially can find benefits in learning more about their heritage. In Water and No Sunshine, Postell speaks on the ills of police brutality, failing economic systems and the overall blind eye that the hegemonic gaze will have on these issues.

The self-worth, guidance, assurance and therapy that can be gained from learning more about one’s heritage could be the difference between life and death. It is surely the difference between a  positive or negative outlook in environments similar to Baltimore (RIP Freddy Gray).

Diaspora, as a product, was actually carried at Joy Postell’s shows surrounding her album release. The natural ingredient-based hair product was sold as merchandise! But as listeners (specifically Black listeners)  we understand that the diaspora is something that we can engage in to help improve our self-image and reject the negative stereotypes.

“You better wash your hands before you eat, you better say your blessings twice. Because the bloodshed in these streets reflect the tales of men not mice,”

Water, Joy Postell

Joy Postell’s music holds up a mirror to our world today. Her music challenges the white-washing of urban environments. Her music tells the truth about Black resilience but also tells the truth about what Black people are positioned to be resilient against.