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Afrofuturism takes the stage in The Brobot Johnson Experience


Black Panther may have sparked a new interest in Afrofuturism in pop culture, but the roots of the genre date back over a half century.

From Parliament-Funkadelic to Sun Ra to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Afrofuturism supposes the African diaspora through futuristic explorations in art.

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Darian Dauchan, a writer, actor and musician, has brought the concept to the stage in his one-man play, The Brobot Johnson Experience.

"The way that I see Afrofuturism is really it's about Black people re-imagining the past, the present, and the future through the genre of science fiction," said Dauchan. "So much of what Afrofuturism is, is just world-building and being able to create concepts, and really just using your imagination to do something really innovative."

In his play, which grew out of a web series and a music album, the protagonist Flobot Owens time travels to Earth from his home Planet Nubian, to re-teach the human race how to appreciate the simple, and essential things in life. Flobot Owens is a descendant of Brobot Johnson, the very first of the Brobots, who are "half brother, half robot."

Flobot Johnson is "kind of like a rookie MC. He's kind of cocky, he hasn't really seen a whole lot of the universe, and so he makes his first trip to Earth. He's got a lot of learning to do," said Dauchan.

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The crowd is serenaded by Dauchan throughout their journey, as he loops his voice through a Boss RC-505 Loop Station to create his own futuristic hip hop soundtrack.

"I've always grown up with hip hop that was always fun and uplifting, but also had a lot of Afrocentricity in it, and was also very empowering. I wanted to really make sure that I was doing it in that spirit and in that vein, also having it also be a little wacky too," said Dauchan.

Dauchan wears his influences on his sleeve, as he references old school artists like A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Queeen Latifah and MC Lyte.

And his art is building on the past.

"There's a line that Flobot says, which is lineage is everything. Throughout the entire show, there is a sense that what is most important to the Brobots is this notion of legacy and making sure to give honor to those who came before," said Dauchan.

"It's about him learning how to be his own android and move things forward, but also recognizing the things that have come before. Which is something as an artist that I'm always very mindful of, of being able to create work that is in the spirit or in a legacy of something else."

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