portrait of JAWNO

Artist Statement

I am a conjure hip-hop artist interested in Black magical, musical time travel. I ground my art practice in scholarship that critically engage narratives of indigenous African Religion, African American consciousness, as well as Hip-Hop’s lineage and instrumentalism today in liberation work, especially embracing Hip-Hop Feminism.


JAWNO is am a poet, rapper, and vocalist and who utlizes their words to ring in freedom and healing. JAWNO is graduating this year from Stanford with degrees in African and African American Dtudies and Human Biology. JAWNO aims to chronicle the present with an eye towards the future. Their work combines the power of poetry with the musical, magical spirit of conjure practice to create content that highlights the traditions and heritage of hip-hop, jazz, soul and afrofutures through shared legacies.

Email: johnok21@stanford.edu


Tributary: A Work in Progress

Project Description

Tributary is a work inspired by the African American tradition of storytelling, coding, expressing, and getting free. The work is also inspired by my longing and journey to find community with my ancestors who were once free, once enslaved. The nameless, formless family members who still exist in a pool of time and thought and still seek healing, restoration, remembrance, liberation for us. These ideas form the land, water, air, and fire which exist within the universe of this work. The work is also grounded in Yoruba spirituality, which I use as a pathway to belonging and communion with the ancestors, the descendants, the earth that we’re currently uprooted from and that we will return to right relation with.

Untitled design-8

Gratitudes & Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge my family first and foremost for sharing with me the family history to which they are aware. You all are the inspiration for this work, and your reflections and sharings provided a foundation for my imagination to express itself. I would also like to acknowledge that this work would not have been possible without Amara Tabor Smith, who first inspired me to accept the call of my ancestors, and who has been a constant source of inspiration,  guidance, challenge, and care as I dug into the depths of my experience and vision to create this work. Thank you for sharing with me in this process. I also thank the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, A-lan Holt, Evelyn Anderson, Grace Toleque,  and my peer fellows. Special thank you to Jumatatu Poe and Luke Williams. Your lights are in this work, and I cannot express enough gratitude for the co-witnesses that I had on this journey. A mountainous thank you to the Program in African & African American Studies, Dr. Katie Dieter and the rest of the program. Finally, I have to express a ton of gratitude to my ancestors and descendants, who are the impetus for this healing work. Asé.