Ancestor Boy is Home for the Culturally Nomadic

Chippy Nonstop finds a kindred spirit in Lafawndah’s debut album.

For me, writing about music feels contrary to everything I believe in. Listening to music is a feeling I don’t want to explain or tell anyone else how to feel about. I know the process of making music and putting everything you feel into a record; I don’t want to take anything away from the artist who made the record. Yet, here I am.

I’m sitting here in Quintana Roo, Mexico, taking a break from my otherwise hectic schedule to listen to music I usually don’t have the time to listen to and write about it. As a DJ, I usually look for records to play at the club. I always say, as I shifted my career path to more DJing, the way you listen to music as a DJ and the way you listen to music as an avid music enthusiast, or even producer and artist, is very different. I am blessed today to have the time to listen to Lafawndah’s debut album.

As a cultural nomad myself, Lafawndah’s music really resonates with me. I have always gravitated to pop stars who take inspiration from their own heritage. I can feel and imagine her life without even looking at a picture or knowing her story. Lafawndah’s sound is shaped by her Egyptian-Iranian heritage, her studies abroad in Paris, and her brief stint in Mexico. I feel like I understand her perspective. I have lived in Dubai, Zambia, California, New York, and now Toronto, and was aimlessly floating around the world for a year after I got deported from America. I read a quote that Lafawndah said that with this album, she “wanted to create a home for all the orphans in the world,” which really hit home for me. All my life, I felt like I didn’t know where to claim I belong.

A lot of artists’ identity is based on where they are from, who they grew up with, their inspirations. But when you live in war-torn countries or move around a lot, you don’t feel culturally connected to where you are “from,” and the only thing that brings you close to your heritage is the music. I know it sounds corny — like, “OMG, music got me closer to figuring out who I was” — but I personally feel that through her musical journey from her first EP Jungle Exit, which was written in Spanish then translated to English then performed in Swahili, Lawfawndah has seemed to find herself in Ancestor Boy.  I can hear what she considers home in her debut album; I can hear it in her voice.

This 13 track album is beautiful, diverse, yet cohesive to me. Lafawndah comes in hard with the opening track “Uniform,” with hard militant percussion juxtaposed with her sultry voice. She follows it with one of my favorites off the record, “Daddy.” Maybe it was the name of the song that swayed me, but I just love her soothing voice and the way the hook is written. The title track feels very Middle Eastern-influenced to me, with not only the instrumental but also the tone and movement of Lafawndah’s voice; another one of my favorites, it’s a more upbeat track.

Overall, Lafawndah is a dynamic songwriter and producer. I feel everything she put into her music: Her history, her present, and her everything. I admire her passion and creativity. I can’t wait to see her journey and hope she gets where she wants and where she deserves to be. Lafawndah’s musical and aesthetic vision is inspiring to me. No man could ever.

Chippy Nonstop got her name for a reason. She is an audacious, undeniable party starter with a penchant for travelling the world and always bringing her unique energy. As a sound selector she makes the dance floor shake, but there’s much more to the story. Chippy is a DJ, rapper, songwriter, writer, producer, actor and organizer of community events. She is of Indian descent, but is more of a cultural nomad. She was born in Dubai, grew up in Zambia, has citizenship in Canada, has lived in Oakland, and New York, and currently resides in Toronto after a very public deportation. Chippy Nonstop is currently working on new music-related endeavors including a project called
Intersessions,” a sound initiative curated by and for women & the LGBTQ+ community. She is also DJing, recording, and has recently released two tracks: “Bubble Up” and “Lotto.”