Jersey born, Brooklyn reborn Aleijuan Afuraka makes music for every kid that was ever called a ni**er. He suggests a melody for all the enslaved Africans lost in the Middle Passage, and provides a groove for those existing on the outskirts of mainstream society. His latest release, Mermaidz Fr: Outerspace, is a voyage into otherness. Produced alongside Lionel Sanchez Jr., the progressive EP and accompanying self-directed music videos are a multimedia manifesto condemning and enlightening a society to which Afuraka’s alter ego, Mark Darkfeather, does not belong.
Raised in a Pentacostal home, Afuraka’s strict upbringing was geared towards the spiritual world, where the baptismal waters could provide divine powers. Yet he found his calling on the radio in the neighborhood barbershop. The soulful jazz notes like saxophonist James Moody’s “Moody’s Mood for Love” combined with his preference for Octavia Butler novels provided his young mind with the means to explore an interest in fantasy.
As you can see in the video for “Mr. Manning’s Barbershop,” Mark Darkfeather prances in the garden wearing body paint, a Viking ram horns helmet, and little else. This performance art (in the vein of artist Carrie Mae Weems) is a throwback to high art. Aleijuan Afuraka tackles gender and societal boundaries in his self-depiction as an African god who saved slaves thrown overboard by spiriting them away to other planets.