Songs for M

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On March 26, 2014, Kevin Beasley played a DJ set in the Founders Room at the Museum of Modern Art, in which he explored the information embedded in vinyl and the buying and selling of music. Beasley’s set examined how artists have flouted dominant systems of valuation by seeking novel ways to circulate their music—and themselves. He used samples ranging from the 1976 compilation Hastings Street Jazz Experience—which commemorates the black middle class neighborhood of Black Bottom, Detroit, razed in the early 1960s and replaced by the Lafayette Park high rise—to contemporary recordings of beats composed for battling footwork dancers on Chicago’s South Side.

During Beasley’s set, Fred Moten responded by writing a poem, “whatnot to the music,” which can be read and listened to here. A conversation between Moten and Beasley about philosophical exhaustion, lyrical inarticulacy, and the function of improvisation in poetry and music also appears in Triple Canopy’s Passage of a Rumor series.