Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa)

Bio Press Discography Projects

photograph by Bob Sweeney

Primary Scene: Philadelphia

Philadelphia-based Moor Mother (formerly Moor Mother Goddess) is the solo outlet for Maryland-born artist Camae Ayewa. Moor Mother’s music combines social issues with a visceral blend of hardcore electronics and her intense poetry, as if Saul Williams and Noname joined Death Grips. Ayewa — who is also an educator, coach, and social activist — grew up rapping and “playing guitar” with broomstick handles, influenced as much by Patti LaBelle, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys as Malcolm X and Maya Angelou. As a teenager, she delved into the punk scene, preferring its hard edge and D.I.Y. spirit as a vehicle for authentic expression. Ayewa created her Moor Mother project in 2012, after her politically charged hip-hop punk group the Mighty Paradocs went on hiatus. Blending spoken word, jazz rhythms, harsh dissonance, and an almost industrial rawness, Ayewa shifted her focus to beats and textures, which would bring her socially conscious lyrics to life. Her debut EP, Alpha Serpentis, was released at the end of 2012. In the ensuing years — in addition to co-founding the Rockers! Philadelphia series with the AfroFuturist Affair’s Rasheedah Phillips and the Black Quantum Futurism Collective — she would release dozens more. Her LP Fetish Bones (Don Giovanni Records) was issued in 2016. Focusing on historical trauma and the black experience, Ayewa utilized Afrocentric tribal beats and abrasive, unsettling textures, resulting in a cathartic expression of pain and bloodletting (Neil Z. Yeung). Another project, Irreversible Entanglements, co-led with Keir Neuringer and Luke Stewart, released its self-titled debut on Don Giovanni Records and International Anthem in December 2017.

Jeanne LandersMoor Mother (Camae Ayewa)