In retrospect perhaps the problem with the American Dream several generations got sold, was there was too much materialism and not enough dream. Or at least no room for American dreamers who could imagineer future worlds beyond those that only met basic material needs. Beginning in the 19th century Detroit set a high bar internationally for forward-thinking in industry and architectural design —a futurist bent that had produced a skyline full of miracles by mid-century, many of the most magnificent of which are still standing..
The Detroit auto-industries making a way for African American laborers was miraculous in its own right and partly born of a racial nightmare: Blackfolk fleeing the everyday Jterrorism and slave-croppping poverty of the South for the promise of modern industrial wages in the city’s booming auto industry. They were economic exiles, refugees and fugitives of the lynch-crazed hell stewing below the Jim Crow-centric Mason Dixon line, yes—but though they were challenged financially, they were in command of what we would become the most globally impactful, influential and inspirational musical culture the world had seen since the Baroque and post Baroque eras.
By the 1940s Black Americans, primarily Southerners, had dialed up a dozen novel and innovative forms of modern music. These innovations would define America’s most distinct and lasting contributions to musical world-cultural history for the next 75 year: Spirituals, ragtime, country blues, classic blues, gospel, New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop, doowop, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, cool jazz, hard bop, First and second generation Detroiters left deep hallmarks. tread marks and skid marks all up and down the canons of these idioms. By the early 70s, Detroit, along with New Orleans and New York , Detroit became one the American cities revered as much for its musicality as for its industrial and architectural swagger. All while provided an incubating sanctuary for the conceptual (and audience) development of brinksmanship musical thought-leaders Sun Ra, George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Prince., Eminem, Slum Village, J. Dilla.
Detroit Proper also began producing figures, genres and protogenres that were groundbreaking in their own right.: Motown, Aretha Franklin (a genre unto herself), the ur-punk of Iggy and The Stooges, MC5 and Death. Add the gospel boplicity of the soul-rousing Clark sisters, the spiritual expanse of Phil Ranelin and The Tribe, the incantory pianistics of Geri Allen, and, of course, Detroit Techno.
Who are The Beneficiaries?
We recognize Jeff Mills and Eddie Fowlkes as two of the originators and progenitors of Detroit Techno, and as artists who’ve sustained a near 40 year practice as prolific keepers of the Motor-City’s culture-advancing musical flame .
Jessica care Moore is an internationally reknowned poet, publisher, band leader, multimedia event impresario and recording artist. She returned to her hometown nearly a decaade after long stints in Atlanta and New York, where she first gained acclaim as a multiple time winner of The legendary Apollo Theatre’s legendary and uber-competitive Amateur Night. The poet’s sermonic delivery of her lyrical tapestries on The Beneficiariesbrings the rich, prophetic and radical political vein of African American Freedom movement poetics into Techno in ways not heard so overtly, militantly or evangelically before.
Mills, Fowlkes and Moore are beneficiaries of Black Detroits multi-dimensional legacies of self-sufficiency and sonic futurism. They represent a triumvirate of diversity haling from within Detroit’s creative omniverse, assembling to lay down a crossroads of their own conjuring and coordinates. Working together for the first time. with energetic ergs of mutual respect, The Beneficiaries bridge parallel and wildly divergent streams of artful productivity— drawing freely, symphonically and cinematically from Detroit’s historic infinitude of visionary, polysemic and polyrythmic possibilities. Through The Beneficiaries we witness deeply rooted Detroit artists once again harnessing The D’s capacity for projecting elevated forms of Black musical consciousness into global arenas of circulation, appreciation and rumination.
—GREG TATE, Harlem 2020
Album project initiated and realised by Jeff Mills.
Words by Jessica Care Moore, music by Jeff Mills and Eddie Fowlkes, Detroit
Recorded at Studio A, Detroit / Detroit Wax Music Lab/ Camp Amp Recording Studio, Detroit and Spider Formation, Miami.
Sound Enhancement by Steve Kovacs. Editing by Jeff Mills.
Paintings for artwork by Sabrina Nelson, Detroit.
Photography of paintings by Shawn Lee, Detroit.
Find out more at https://www.axisrecords.com/