In a recent post, I characterized the Afrocentric movement as being primarily preoccupied with challenging the whiteness of Western Civilization. This is indeed true, but certainly not the whole picture. A number of movements within Afrocentricism were and still are about blending black African culture and heritage with black American styles and sounds. This was the mode of, say, the Native Tongues collective (Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest), and also parts of Kendrick Lamar’s rather messy Black Panther album. But what must be appreciated is the defining orientation of the Afrocentric movements and modes: not to the future, but to a past that can enlighten the present. To get a sense of this temporal alignment, listen to Killah Priest's gorgeous and growling "From Then Till Now," which scored the driving scene in Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog:

With Afrofuturism, tomorrowland dominates the imagination, and the past can even be erased, deleted, or cleared: "clear all this space... clear today... clear your mind... clear behind...." For me, Afrofuturism in its musical form—what Kodwo Eshun calls "sonic fiction" in his groundbreaking book More Brilliant than the Sun, which Verso is reprinting this year—really begins with Cybotron's "Clear." This track was not just a radical appropriation and re-versioning of Kraftwerk, but a radical refusal to claim any of the past. This goes completely against the kind of ancestor worship that forms the basis of almost all black African religious beliefs. Indeed, this ancestor worship is even at the heart of the Black Panther movie. The spirits of our dead and gone speak to with us, still have something to say, and can see beyond the confines of the present. (There are traces of this ancestor worship in the Chimurenga-like rebellion in Star Wars.)

"Clear" says no to all of this kind of thing and points to "tomorrow," which is "a brand new day." Because Cybotron—Juan Atkins and Richard "3070" Davis—clears the past, my playlist cleared proto-Afrofuturist beats (for example, Sun Ra's Space is the Place, Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa," Parliament's "Mothership Connection (Star Child)"), and begins with the end of black history, "Clear." (An important note: If the list favors Detroit techno, that's because hiphop, which adopted Afrocentrism in the late-'80s, pretty much abandoned Afrofuturism in the mid-'80s. It was sporadically revived in the second-half of the 1990s—see Dr Octagon—and fully revived in the first decade of the present century by collectives like Black Constellation. Also, you will find nothing in hiphop like Robert Hood's "Sleep Cycles," which transforms a black church service into a church of bopping and whooping black robots. And it does this with no humor.)

1) "Clear" by Cybotron
2) "Bassline" by Mantronix
3) "Planet Rock" by Soul Sonic Force
4) "Breaker's in Space" by Key-Matic
5) "Computer Age" by Newcleus
6) "Give Me The Night" by Shannon
7) "No UFO's" by Model 500
8) "Voodoo Ray" by A Guy Called Gerald
9) "Follow the Leader" by Eric B and Rakim
10) "The Final Frontier" by Underground Resistance
11) "Bubble Metropolis" by Drexciya
12) "Sleep Cycles" by Robert Hood
13) "Man-Like" by Jeff Mills
14) "Starlight" by Model 500
15) "Grapheme" by DJ Spooky
16) "3000" by Dr. Octagon
17) "These planets aint aligned" by Freestyle Fellowship
18) "V.I.P. Riders Ghost" by Rufige Kru
19) "Sea Quake" by Drexciya
20) "Perfecture: Somewhere Around Now" by Jeff Mills
21) "EarthEE" by THEESatisfaction
22) "Digital Tsunami" by Drexciya
23) "Scattering Pulsars" by Shifted Phases (James Stinson)
24) "Amazon" by World 2 World
25) "Warning" by Model 500
26) "Sonic MythMap for the Trip Back" by Shabazz Palaces