Ahmad Julian and Andre Oswald are Old Money; a New York-based rap, production and DJ duo of Jamaican and Guyanese origins. Their music incorporates the sounds of contemporary Africa such as UK funky, dancehall, kwaito, kuduro and hip-hop while remaining rooted in traditions of pan-African philosophy. In this way, their output remains dynamic and cutting-edge, while also taking on a mystical bend – influenced by fringe spiritual orders like the Nuwaubians, the Moors, NOI, and The 5 Percenters, as well as science fiction novels by author Octavia Butler. They’ve performed and DJ’d alongside the likes of The Cool Kids, Maluca + Paul Devro (Mad Decent), Digable Planets and more. Fire in the Dark is their most recent project – a 14-track album released on the Brooklyn-based Dutty Artz label, in partnership with A.L.I.E.N. NYC.

“Fire in the Dark” Album Artwork


Some words on Fire in the Dark

The project sprung forth out of anger and desperation.

When the first tracks were laid, Ahmad and Andre were a pair of twenty-something black men with prestigious educational backgrounds, who were broke. They had no job prospects, no health insurance, and they were feeling lied to. In order to re-educate themselves they started watching documentaries, YouTube videos, and also reading books on ancient civilizations and mystical orders. These sources presented ideas that both Ahmad and Andre had either encountered years prior, or had known intuitively, but were seeing expressed clearly for the first time.

The name Fire in the Dark refers directly to an ad-lib from the song ‘Sex, Love, & Money‘ by Mos Def in which he says, ‘Fire in the dark… ghetto got the spark.’

However, it was Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, a renowned scholar on African history, who provided the philosophical foundation for the project, and for much of Old Money’s aesthetic. Sertima asserts that given the legacy of the Moors in Europe, evidence of a pre-Colombian African presence in the Americas, as well as the strong case for the Black African origin of Greek civilization, there is more than sufficient proof to debunk the racist notion that peoples of African descent have contributed nothing to modern civilization. He concludes with the point that people of African descent ‘are the light of the world.’

Old Money sees Mos Def’s line ‘Fire in the Dark’ as being inextricably connected to these ideas put forth by Dr. Sertima. The second half of the Mos Def lyric says ‘ghetto got the spark.’ This line resonates with the project as well, as it is Old Money’s belief that the ghetto feeds the planet – culturally, economically, and otherwise. The poor and disenfranchised are the ‘invisible (wo)men’ (note: reference to famed novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison) that the whole world watches.

They are simultaneously discarded and disregarded, as well as cheered, envied and revered. Their very existence in modern society is a paradox.

Fire in the Dark represents protest, anger, desperation of the current status quo intermixed with an understanding of metaphysics, esoteric knowledge and an avarice for pop culture demagogy. The project represents a capsule of new consciousness within the black experience.

Emphasizing this renewed focus on a more biting political philosophy, while reaffirming their connection to downtown street culture, Fire in the Dark is being co-presented by A.L.I.E.N. NYC – an iconic brand known as much for it’s progressive, esoteric leanings and philosophy as it is for it’s groundbreaking designs and artwork. Their oft-imitated aesthetic has garnered them recognition from taste-making outlets such as Hypebeast and Complex, as well as the enduring respect of their peers as being one of the most innovative, and downright coolest brands to have emerged from the underground. Dutty Artz, Old Money and A.L.I.E.N. NYC are three distinct entities who constantly encourage their audience to dig deeper.’

‘Old Money’ by King Texas

Back in 2012 we interviewed Ahmad Julian… To follow is a little excerpt but to read the full interview, click HERE

Do you feel it’s an interesting moment to be in the music industry?

Yeah…. now there’s no model on how to ‘make it.’ Though to be frank, we stopped giving a shit about that in the traditional sense a while ago. Anyway, it’s interesting because there’s more people than ever (or so it feels/seems) making music. But the machine as we once knew it is pretty much dead.

FIRE IN THE DARK Track Listing:

1. Intro 01:27
2. Black Pepper 02:16
3. Swahili and Dough 03:11
4. Rumble in Tenochtitlan 03:12
5. Doctor Doctor 03:16
6. Paris Interlude 00:23
7. Mothership 03:22
8. Uhura 04:49
9. Amethyst 02:11
10. Maroon on the Move 03:25
11. Razor 01:34
12. Callaloo Interlude 00:22
13. Ayahuasca 03:08
14. Doctor Doctor Remix 03:39


All songs written and performed by Old Money except ‘Intro’, ‘Paris – Interlude’ and ‘Callaloo’
‘Rumble in Tenochtitlan’, ‘Uhura’ and ‘Ayahuasca’ produced by Old Money; ‘Mothership’ and ‘Razor’ – produced by Old Money & Alden Alden
‘Black Pepper’, ‘Doctor Doctor’, ‘Doctor Doctor’ (Remix) and ‘Maroon on the Move’ – produced by Konrad
‘Swahili and Dough’ – produced by Lamin Fofana
‘Amethyst’ – originally ‘Holy Water’ by Actress
‘Callaloo’ – produced by Alden Alden.
Mastered by at jelani@jelaniday.com at Home School. Harlem, USA.

images: King Texas

Old Money by King Texas