It may seem damn near impossible to embody the past, present, and future under one umbrella, until you meet EmmoLei Sankofa. But let’s be clear, EmmoLei expands the circumference of an umbrellas reach. When she joined The Black Lunch Break crew for Episode 41, we all easily agreed to the term ‘Ancestral,’ once cast mate and show host Cirilo coined her sound so poetically and might I add, necessary.
Remember as a child searching for that four leaf clover in a shitload of three leaf suckas? Mane that shit was so draining and addictive at the am same time and that’s exactly how I act when searching for a sonically pleasing sound; and, while I can’t take credit for discovering the beautiful soul of EmmoLei, I can say I found the four leaf clover tho. Don’t debate me here.
EmmoLei Sankofa, The L is capitalized, is an American composer, singer-songwriter, record producer, sound artist, and multi-instrumentalist whose work stretches across music, visual media, and fine art. Her website is beautiful crafted and you should go take a tour and learn you something, ya digg?
EmmoLei comes from an extensive musical background, a member of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority Inc. Broadcast Music, Inc., Composers Diversity Collective and a voting member of The Recording Academy. Her resume speaks for itself but let’s never forget the performance for Nelly at the 2007 BET Hip Hop Awards, that’s 13 years ago and goes to show she is not new to any of this and let’s be real, all HBUCs graduates are built for anything, it’s in our the DNA. No shade. I love US, for real.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia and currently residing in Los Angeles, California; EmmoLei and her creative existence has roots that connects with her family and to her college years, whether it was achieving her Bachelor of Science, Music Recording Technology degree at Hampton University or mastering the Master Of Fine Arts, Sound Design at Savannah College of Art and Design. She has been prepped for greatness. When I discovered the Spotify playlist The Future Is Female by Madame Gahdi, I quietly thought, “What a great limitless category to be attached to.” Real quick, check out this trailer below to tease you for the remainder of this read.
EmmoLei discusses past, present, and future with us and we paid close attention to the #NOGENRE hashtag we found floating on her IG, which is a theme she is unintentionally pushing and it’s brilliant. Boxes will always stall a creative process and the only way to create is in a free zone. When realizing how diverse her sound and soul was, I felt her when she spoke, “I am creating new paths and one day we will all see what I’ve built.” so I asked, “You enjoy creating new heights?” She paused and was not a fan of the choice of words, “Using that phrase makes it seem like the end and I just don’t like that. I like to move with the thought that I can keep creating.” When I saw her face drop and listened to her explanation, I understood so I rephrased, “So you’re continuously creating new forefront’s?” Her eyes lit, “YES! That’s it! I have experience in what I do and many have been introduced to my work before my face. When speaking to perspective new work relationships, the enthusiasm is felt until the actual introduction; then silence follows. I have no choice but to believe it’s because I am black. Being from Atlanta, you would think I would be accustomed to it but I’m not.” I brought up The Future Is Female for a reason. This conversation tied into that playlist, which is called alignment. EmmoLei has made her mark on so many platforms, whether visually or through sound, she will only continue to keep opening and creating new paths. The playlist is the 83rd edition and is called Quarantine Edition 1. How fitting and telling is the title, considering it dropped August 7, 2019. Sheesh!
This conversation easily slid into the explanation of her passion as an artist. In 2014, she launched BelSonKo, a Kolektif; small, diverse team that helps emerging filmmakers and brands amplify the impact of their work through music and sound. To be behind-the-scenes and on-the-scene is a multi talented dimension and not to be confused with multitasking. EmmoLei knows her worth and it appears to me she has always been aware so she has maintained nurturing it through many investments into self, which makes everything about her undeniable.
“You like playing mind games, huh?” this question tickled her when I asked about the puzzles she had her audience participate in during the promotion of Geometry. “Mystery leaves the audience wondering what’s going on. The creative process is something I give my all to and although he is unpopular right now, I can understand Kanye West as far as the creative process goes.” And I find no issue in that statement whatsoever. EmmoLei attaches her audience to her work before it was even available to be enjoyed. The trick is, you’re subconsciously enjoying the artist before experiencing the artist and that shit is hella dope to me. She made the audience do the work, DO YOU HEAR ME? And the audience was there for it. Crediting her as a genius, solving an EmmoLei puzzle is a whole mind fuck accomplishment just by directly connecting with the audiences mind through brain exercise, visuals and the reward is the sound. DOPE SHIT! “Everything I do is intentional!” says EmmoLei.
THEN, you discover the triangles music video and KABOOM, mind blown AGAIN! The colors, the royal blackness, the sounds, the feelings, the intro, the energy and the damn ending just leaves you thirsty for more and had me wondering if the story was a true one but EmmoLei claims to have NO IDEA. Another mind attachment, straight like that. When an artist takes things a bit further than the arts, you have to not only respect it but you must pay attention. When she finds inspiration she transforms the energy into a new creation divined by her vision. For example, her digi book, which I highly suggest checking out gives another level of experience to who she is an artist and something you should experience yourself.
Geometry was gifted to us in 2019 and triangles music video dropped in 2020 but can we suggest you start at the beginning of her discography since Geometry is such a treat with a splash of extra goodness due to a separate commentary project that leaves no room for any questions EXCEPT the questions about the love story. Yep! I’m still not over her leaving my mind to wonder.
I appreciate an energized connection and I truly appreciate the commentary on the highest level. ‘Last Train To Paris’ was the last project my soul thoroughly enjoyed and that shit was a decade ago. That doesn’t mean I have not enjoyed anyone’s work, just enjoyed a single or two, not the entire body of work so EmmoLei and her sound was a new awakening for me. Be it, the lyrics, vocal expressions, or just the sounds alone, I’m locked in. I think she is a pure Goddess and let’s be real, I have a gift and I know GODS when I see one and I will leave that at that.
Outside from Geometry INTENTIONS IS MY SHIIIIIITTTTTT YALLL HOLY BEJEZUZ CRIZZZISSST and let’s not forget about the crazy artwork that ties you into every project/single. INDETERMINACY mindtrapped me, same thing for AVOWAL, which has a Prince vibe to it and when she whistles, I fell out my damn chair y’all, I ain’t lying. Shit, I don’t lie. No cap. Science and math is a heavy component added to her creation and it is heavily appreciated.
I enjoyed diving into everything EmmoLei Sankofa and I’m sure you will too. Sankofa is a name that found her and literally ties into the future. It is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates to “Go back and get it” and considering her time in Johannesburg, Africa at the Baldwin’s Room Artist Residency, she started an ancestral journey in my eyes (and probably before then if I’m being honest) and she is walking in her purpose by seeing out her vision for the future. Every intentional move of hers has future in mind. When your work travels and makes moves for you, your name is spoken in rooms you’ve never entered and when you get put on a Saint Heron playlist, the only vision one can possibly have is forward thinking. The Future is Female. The Future is EmmoLei Sankofa. The Future is here! Thank you EmmoLei!