Ntu Introduces His World Beyond
“Given the space and the resources, do I have the skills to execute something worthwhile? Could I fill the space with something meaningful and representative of where I am with my study of Blackness, music, dance, and performance?” Ntu’s self-examination will soon materialize, as the half-filled St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery anticipates the experimental artist’s latest installment, a live teaser of his debut EP Perfect Blue. Whether they are familiar with Ntu’s previous work or are just learning the pronunciation of his name (en-too), audience members cannot anticipate the alternate universe they will soon transport to, the universe of “(000).” Having attended his most recent shows, I am eager to see what he brings to his first large-scale production.
Since Ntu’s NYC arrival in 2017, his work has commanded attention through a variety of artistic forms: heart palpitating music releases (“Pile”), enigmatic visuals (“Soon” music video), not to mention performances that captivate effortlessly. Ntu defies convention, always pushing boundaries with intention. Each release is a level up, recalibration, a forward look. Practicing multiple disciplines, he creates work through the lens of Afrofuturism, capturing his experiences as they relate to Blackness while looking towards a future that lives beyond the oppression and disenfranchisement of Black history, Black culture, and Black art. He sonically represents this forward stride by creating Progressive Electronic music rooted in R&B and Hip Hop. The Arca-influenced artist has been nothing short of focused the past two years, developing his artistry and furthering his conceptual exploration. He is now ready to share his “(000)” vision with our world, the show being an entry point to his ever-evolving universe beyond whiteness.
Mystifying visuals are projected onto the walls of the St. Marks Church. Three vocalists (Abby Tawiah, Jessica Howard, Dana Mccoy) initiate the experience with piercing harmonies. Ntu appears, draped in white, gliding angelically across the space. As he repeatedly contracts and releases his body side-to-side, the first song and soon-to-be single, “Gaslight,” begins.
Over the course of the 40-minute presentation, every performer and show element is present, moving or staying still purposefully. From start to finish, the show seldom stays in one place, keeping up with modern audiences ever-fleeting attention span. Ntu’s beautifully composed melodies are taken over by expertly crafted poems that are interpreted through sharp movements that eventually evolve into choreographic wonder. I was especially taken back by a powerful duet performed by Ntu and another male dancer (Michael Miles), where it seems like Ntu is representing an exchange between is internal and external self. This being a teaser for the November release of Ntu’s debut EP, all the songs that are set to be on the project are performed in some form. That along with so many elements in constant charade, the experience is almost overwhelming at times. Nevertheless, Ntu carries the show with his sureness and assertion thereof.
I originally thought it would take a performance of this scale to fully grasp Ntu’s vision. Amongst a line up of other artists, although an equally captivating performance, his set is often inconsistent with those of his fellow performers. After watching “(000) ,” a show that features solely his creative realm, I am left anticipating more. For his world to be fully realized, it now begs collaboration with other artists that share a synonymous Afrofuturistic vision. This will transform his headlining experience from its current state of disarrayed ideas to a more developed, self-contained universe. I look forward to seeing who dwells in Ntu’s world beyond.
In preparation for the showcase, Ntu has made sure he is well-versed in the academic aspect of his work by reading material such as The Undercommons by Fred Moten and Claudia Rankine’s essay titled The Racial Imaginary. Informed by his most recent studies, Ntu portrays what he sees as “the awareness Black people need to have of an imagined version of themselves and their actual self. The songs talk about everything from family and lineage as it relates to the self to discussing time and friendship as they relate to Blackness.” These ideas are to be the central theme of his EP. He hopes that the “(000)” show is just the beginning of the conversation, using music and art as an accessible way to grasp such concepts that can be largely inaccessible. “It’s pop music, but I wanted to extrapolate the lyrics and narrative to something that could be more conceptual, academic.”
In the months leading up to his EP release, lookout for new music releases, performances, and a special mailing list that will grant access to exclusive releases and merchandise. You can follow Ntu’s journey on all social media platforms @ntu000, as well as on all music streaming platforms: Ntu.