“Afrofuturism is a term that emerged in the mid-90s, coined by cultural critic Mark Dery, who affixed the term to the growing artistic movement and critiques that followed narratives of people of African descent in a sci-fi, futuristic treaties.”
– Ytasha L. Womack
There are historical instances of Afrofuturist practice that can be identified as existing before the actual term was conceived. Examples are the Dark Matter anthologies, and older works by W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles W. Chesnutt, and George S. Schuyler.
Afrofuturism in music was first introduced by the late Sun Ra, who used Afrocentric and space-themed titles to reflect his linking of ancient African culture, specifically Egypt, and the cutting edge of the Space Age. Ra’s film Space Is the Place shows him and his band, Arkestra, in Oakland in the mid-1970s in full space costume, and with a lot of science fiction imagery as well as other comedic and musical material.
Afrofuturist ideas were further expanded in 1975 by George Clinton and his bands Parliament and Funkadelic. Other musicians influenced by Afrofuturism include reggae producers Lee “Scratch” Perry and Scientist, hip-hop artists Afrika Bambaataa and Tricky, electronic musicians Larry Heard, A Guy Called Gerald, Juan Atkins, and Lotti Golden & Richard Scher, electro hip hop producer/writers of Warp 9’s “Light Years Away.”
In the early 90s, cultural critics, most notably Mark Dery in his 1994 essay Black to the Future, wrote about the themes they saw as common in black science fiction, music, and art. Dery named this phenomenon Afrofuturism.