BUK THE SYSTEM Compilation Album

I’d like to thank the amazing Samir Gangwani & Jessica Fuquay for giving me the opportunity to not only create work to uplift local artistry, but also to honor the life and memory of Mr. Frank “Bukit” Smart, for whom the Bukit Bail Fund of Pittsburgh is named. 

For this piece, I drew inspiration directly from Mr. Smart’s love of chess and used a font reminiscent of the ubiquitous Octin Prison font. The flimsy and impractical fabric chessboard represents the American justice system in two ways: firstly, the race-based supremacist system that necessitates that law enforcement (blue knights & figures who, though also disposable, hold higher rank over pawns because of their job to protect those in power) take Black lives (pawns) by force does not uphold the well-being or health of its paid henchmen either, and is therefore not a system that actually supports any kind of person, no matter one’s role; secondly, the chess pieces’ and fabric’s dynamic state convey the ongoing sense of frustration similar to when one angrily sweeps all the game pieces off of a table after a particularly painful loss.

This visual is a call to action. It is no longer  enough for us to know how to play one of this nation’s most dehumanizing games – we also must upend the game and all the premises it was built on entirely, wipe all the pieces from the board and start afresh – we must bu(c)k the system. 

My song contribution to this compilation album, “Prayer to Iku,” has a distinctly warm and tropical feel to it. Drawing from West African mythology and music, the track is both a pained question and a tribute to the Yoruba force of death, Iku. In 2020 especially this almost never-worshipped manifestation of death has made himself seen, between the increased exposure of police brutality against Black people and deaths as a result of COVID-19. This song aims to both honor the dead (who perhaps, we feel should not yet be so), and supplicate to my gods on behalf of us all.


The full 19-track compilation album featuring some of Pitssburgh’s hottest experimental artists is now available for streaming and purchase on Bandcamp, with all proceeds going straight to the Bukit Bail Fund. 
Mastering by: Ali Berger
Album Artwork by: Khadijat Yussuff
Organized by: Samir Gangwani & Jessica Fuquay