Chino Amobi is a producer, visual artist, and co-founder of NON, a label and “digital nation state” uniting producers and DJs from Africa and the international African diaspora. After years of recording under the pseudonym Diamond Black Hearted Boy, he now releases his futuristic noise under his own name—a result of the desire to erase the “division between the sound and [him]self.”
Amobi was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Nigerian immigrant parents and started making occasional beats and rapping with his brother, who goes by Chichi the Eternal, at the age of twelve. He initiated the performance and sound art project Diamond Black Hearted Boy while studying painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, and it was under this moniker that he began to put a sound to his feeling of marginalization. He later founded NON together with friends and fellow producers Nkisi (based in London) and Angel-Ho (based in Capetown), both of whom he met via discovering their music online. In the collective’s own words, NON “uses sound as a weapon to destabilize and deterritorialize [its] audience, and through this process of sonic reclamation and reterritorialization, [it] redirect[s] the listeners' attention to [its] message.” Their message is clear: expose, confront, and overcome the power structures of colonial heritage. NON is built around a shared sense of displacement and “psychosocial alienation” (Kodwo Eshun) that is fundamental to the Afrodiasporic experience. Rejecting the mainstream culture of his assigned nation, Amobi has chosen—via the internet—to be a “citizen” of a collective he shares with other displaced people.
Amobi has released much of his output, including the 2015 EP Anja’s Garden, a collection of broad-cut collages of fanciful, epic instrumentals and brash percussion, via the label Uno NYC. His upcoming full-length will also be released on Uno. He also regularly publishes new output on his own Soundcloud page. Airport Music For Black Folk, an apparent satire of Brian Eno’s Airport Music, sheds neon light on oblivious privilege and an associated peace of mind that is taken for granted. Amobi’s “Alicia Keys Bootleg” juxtaposes Keys’ “everything’s gonna be alright” with sonic evidence against that: gunshots, sirens, etc. As he told Thump, “inflicting sonic ugliness on his listeners is a way of pointing to violence in society—and pointing to that violence is the first step to overcoming it. ‘It's healing to me in a way,’ he says. ‘After you've been through trauma, it makes you appreciate peace even more.’”