By Amina Ali, BA English and Arabic
In honour of black history month, Najwa Urman created ‘Blklisteningparty’. The monthly event is hosted at Peckham Levels, with each one focussing on a different black artist. At a listening party, the audience collectively listens to one artist or album followed by open discussions and commentary. Last month I went to a listening party for British grime artist, Dave’s, debut album, ‘Psychodrama’. Among its numerous accolades, this album won the esteemed Mercury Prize.
‘Blklisteningparty’ brings back the element of art and the appreciation of different interpretations.
This album encompasses a number of taboo issues such as domestic abuse and racial inequality. Dave particularly focuses on his struggles with mental illness – namely, depression. The first track begins with Dave talking to his therapist. ‘Psychodrama’ is a form of psychotherapy in which patients role-play events from their past to heal and make sense of themselves. ‘Psychodrama’ has been referred to as a ‘concept album’, and has a three-act structure: act one is defined as “environment”; act two as “relationships”; and act three as “social compass”. Dave tackles these issues poetically, creating tracks that are relatable, political and danceable.
I would describe these listening parties as a safe space to discuss your opinions about an artist that you love, and a space to celebrate black musicians. It’s great to see a platform that honours black excellence. Najwa’s said her vision for ‘Blklisteningparty’ is ‘to introduce a new way of consuming music in a fast-food era of quick consumption, by taking time with albums as a body of work and unpacking lyrics.’ ‘Blklisteningparty’ brings back the element of art and the appreciation of different interpretations.
I would definitely recommend the listening party to anyone who wants to learn about a new artist or celebrate an artist they enjoy. You can find upcoming events on Blklisteningparty’s Instagram: @blklisteningparty