When you don’t have diverse voices covering diverse artists, platforms fall into a large white hole. That’s what I learned growing up reading The New York Times, trying to decipher what Spike Lee was bringing to the screen from his experiences in Brooklyn, New York City, and the world at large.
I remember distinctly that white critics continuously dogged him until the release of Jungle Fever for his stories that focused on the Black community, but contained no stereotypical depictions of drugs or gangs in his films.
Yup. That was the complaint. Not the large pervasive string of films being made during that time period that made Black trauma the selling point. Nope, “Spike, where are the drugs?” remained the question from mostly white film critics.
Over at the Village Voice, Nelson George, the late and great Greg Tate, and numerous other Black writers could provide context, relatability, and—the biggest tool of all—ability to show empathy for these everyday truths Spike was telling by way of a mostly Black cast.
Baraki Ongeri, also known as binki, is not Tyler The Creator. It’s a lazy assumption that numerous music journos have made who have no time to dig deeper for, uh, I dunno, the facts?
Born on September 14, 1997—two weeks after Princess Diana died—binki fuses many different styles. (Supposedly, he’s a Siouxsie and the Banshees fan.) He brought them all to his one-hour set at Cafe Du Nord July 21. Prancing and stumbling all at once, his post-punk shrug emoji mettle charmed a sold-out crowd of rowdy young folks and sharply dressed, non-annoying hipster types by the end of the first song.
Charismatic, goofy, fun, and down-right beaming with that star quality, Bikini sang-blurted through two EPs of new wave and rubbery textures.
I can’t decipher if the boisterous throng of well wishers read The Fader or if they stay addicted to Spotify. I dunno these people. But they were more than excited to make their Friday night interactive. They felt a strong connection with the performer. We’re talkin’ over-the-top rando comments being hurled out, one and many, at their brown skinned Millennial avatar.
Young women clamoring for his after-show details, not even making it one-third through the show.
Take a sip of some settle juice, people. C’mon.
Binki is a first-generation American whose family came from Kenya and he grew up in Pennsylvania, earned a degree in acting from UNC Greensboro, and moved to New York in 2018.
“San Fran [we don’t like it when people call it that, but whatever], this is my second time here,” the sunglasses-wearing performer told a packed house in between sips of throat coat tea.
“Went to see the redwoods today. I heard people break into cars here. That’s cool,” he smirked. “I really don’t have a lot to say.”
It was OK, he put it in the performance.
Listen, it was public record that this show was sold out, but I was unprepared for this frenzied crowd bouncing even my big butt around. They repped for binki on the weekend of “Barbienheimer” and the SF Marathon. They made it despite Muni bedlam, restricted bus and train lines all week, traffic chaos and streets being closed, altered and just plain clogged up.
Despite all the exterior confusion, binki’s performance was a hit. “Sea Sick” from 2019, a crowd favorite that has almost 30,000,000 streams on Spotify, was in particular a “whip out the phone” moment.
As binki tossed off a yellow MTV T-shirt and did his wiggle dance topless, that Ian Curtis herky-jerky meets Basquait shuffle, while his vocals surfed in and out of tune, maintaining the nasal “snotty rawk” texture he’s made into offbeat swag. His crowd approved the antics, which somehow made his subsequent, accidental tumble into his drummer an authentic gesture.
Stream binki’s music here.