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Hepicat x GOLA - Creating Afrofuturist Inspired Culture

Afrofuturism, The Blues and my African heritage inspires and informs my work. I create art and clothing to support people who want to build a new world. My brand is Hepicat and this is my principle:

 "Relax inside my shiny blueness"
from: Are you... Can you... Were you? (Felt) by Shabazz Palaces

Interpretation and Inspiration:

Stay calm: Your Blues and struggles will help you to imagine and create new possibilities. You will arrive spiritually and physically in a space where you can change the world with your new vision.

This concept is central to my work as a Culturesmith. What's that? Rather than be a person who just designs clothes or ideas, I'm developing new cultures and traditions inspired by the past. My mission is to draw people into a space where they can imagine and shape a different future. I want to take the world from Globalization and Trayvon to Star Trek.

Afrofuturism and The Blues are the foundation for what I do. These cultural movements give folk space to speak of where they've been and the future they want to go to.

The Blues are a African folk music tradition that came to the U.S.A. via the Slave Trade. People made the music to keep from dying of a broken soul. Over time American culture slang'd The Blues to mean a deep pain. The music itself provides a way to deal with loss, pain, the struggle and also to celebrate the joys in life. This is how I broke the line down.

Relax - To relax is to maintain harmony and happiness, to balance peace of mind with awareness of the world around us. It is a state of Calmness, coolness brought on by familiarity. We relax when cast off restraints or nervousness, tension, and anxiety. To relax then, is to find courage and the ability to think proactively under pressure.

Inside my(blues) - to immerse oneself in ones blues(struggle), spiritually or mentally or physically.

Think of the Blues like a house or like clothing. What does it mean to be inside the blues?
Our ability to exist and relax inside the Blues suggests fortitude. To be inside our Blues also suggests a familiarity with struggle to the point where it doesn't shake us--it makes us fight harder.

Rather than lose our cool trying to escape the struggle, we see our Blues as a space for inspiration to occur. The ability to Relax Inside the Blues suggests that not only have can we survive the pressures of the struggle, we remain inventive and transform our Blues into armor.

Shiny Blueness -

The Blues help us to illuminate and destroy a deeper darkness inside of us--denial. If we weren't able to express or learn from our past pain or struggles, we would probably wither up and die from the stress. Likewise, if we weren't able to release or learn from our Blues, we would not be able to experience Joy.

"Shiny Blueness" suggests that we can gain new understanding and fresh perspective from our struggles. Our whole way of thinking has been lit-up by the struggle--now we can find wealth in our Blues and enrich ourselves through the Blues.

My Project: Hepicat x GOLA

Hepicat x GOLA is an Afrofuturist clothing line and language project I'm building, inspired by my brand principle.
I'm making the clothing line(Hepicat) to bring an African aesthetic to streetwear and night-wear. I'm making the language(GOLA) to represent the experiences of African-descended people in Louisiana(my home).

When African people were enslaved and brought to the U.S. we were denied the use of our culture and languages due to the violence of the slave trade and centuries of racism. But some of my ancestors remained clever and made ways to communicate through music and symbols instead.

I decided that instead of being debilitated by my situation, I would build upon my Blues and elders' techniques to create something new: Hepicat and the GOLA language were born. My language is based off the Blues, Jazz and is a mix of words from around the global African community to reflect the heritage of Black folk living in the U.S.

Fig. 777-1 - Itutu



Itutu, or Chill - "A cool mind looks past chaos or disaster and sees opportunity to create." Itutu is a Yoruba word meaning "coolness".

Fig. 777-2 - The Blues



Blues - "We make a song to survive deep pains in our memory."

Fig. 777-3 - Ngoma Mumia, or Mumia's Drum


Ngoma Mumia - "Bend the bars of your prison into a drum." This symbol was inspired by Mumia Abu Jamal and other political prisoners. Instead of accepting unjust imprisonment as their fate, they use their voices and wisdom to punch through prison walls.



If you read all of these symbols together, they could be interpreted as:

The chill mind bends memories of slave ships into a song, the song is a vision freeing them in grief from their prisons.

or


"Relax inside my shiny blueness."

My Story:



I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. It's a beautiful place, but can be extremely violent towards young Black people. Louisiana is the prison capital of the world, our child poverty rate is at 41%, violence is high. We need visions of a new future to unite around. I've known this since I was a child.

Many of us walk around in t-shirts with "MY KICKS FLY" or Skulls and crossbones, we rock hats say "DOPE" or "OBEY". This ain't to knock those brands--but I recognize that we're being killed behind clothes, crack, Nikes and politics. And I often think: what about the people out there who are dying of thirst, waiting to be inspired and motivated to build something greater? That's who I plan to connect with through my work.

The Hepicat x GOLA project began the day I decided that I wanted to know where in Africa my family came from. After years of searching, I still couldn't find the answer I wanted--nothing that would take my family tree beyond Louisiana. Then I began asking myself: what if this is a blessing and not a curse? I began seeing New Orleans as part of Africa, and that Black people here represented the seed of a new African people. Instead of dreaming for roots, I decided to build on what I knew to create the roots of a new future and a new culture.

I began Hepicat x GOLA this year, after two decades of learning from African culture and my experiences as young Black man in the U.S. I've survived my share of tragedies in this place by responding to it through art and activism. But survival is not enough for me anymore: I'm ready to live. I'm going to build environments and cultures that make the lifestyle I want possible.

The World that I want to be in is a space where imagination, hustle and diversity (of style, thought and people) is celebrated, not assimilated. The World I want to be in is deeper than consumer culture. I'm going to create something more soulful.

Hepicat x GOLA is how I want to turn the fashion industry inside out. Most people are just making clothes and markets. I'm going to make armor and new ways to communicate.

Please help me share and write my story.

You can read an interview with me here(props to Ignite the Sound!): 

http://ignitethesound.com/sanctuary-series-dane-verret/



Peep an article on my project here: 

http://ignitethesound.com/hepicat-new-afrofuturist-fashion-that-tells-a-story/

Connect with me:

On FB: https://www.facebook.com/WeHepicat

On Tumblr: http://www.wehepicat.tumblr.com/
And peep Hepicat's website here: http://hepicat.us/

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