Diggin Thru Da Diaspora with DJ Lydia Aga
By Anne O’Leary
Last semester, Lydia Aga (she/her) started her radio show Diggin Thru Da Diaspora on WECB. She curates a new 55-minute playlist for each week filled with various genres and styles, the common thread being that all of the artists featured are a part of the African diaspora.
The African diaspora is a term used to describe communities of African descent, who were taken during the Transatlantic slave trade and dispersed throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Lydia’s tagline for the show is: “Uncovering Sounds of Blackness One Tune at a Time.” She plays music from artists who identify as Black from areas of the African diaspora as well as African artists.
The 20-year-old Emerson student is passionate about music history, sampling, and graphic design— mainly collage work. She also has a passion for community organizing, which allowed her to shine while working with Fellowship for African American Policy Forum last summer.
Lydia has a wide range of music tastes, so much so that her friends back home in New Jersey refer to her as “The Human Shazam.”
I sat down with “The Human Shazam” herself to talk about her radio show, Diggin Thru Da Diaspora, as well as her love for music.
Q: When did you start becoming interested in radio and music?
L: Definitely as a kid. My parents raised me on NPR. My uncle is an artist. And I was also an only kid, so I was surrounded by musicians and visual artists. I have a crate-digging hobby as well. But it started to click in high school when I was really into writing poetry, and I used a lot of old-school hip-hop references. Music has always been really important to me and I am also a fiend for researching it, so I think growing up my palette was really curated.
Q: Who or what influenced your taste in music?
L: My dad and my uncle for sure. My dad is a huge Bob Marley fan and my uncle showed me a lot of Ethiopian Jazz. I also grew up liking Pavement, Green Day, and Blink 182 from my friends and their older siblings. Also, through sampling. I’ll be like “that sounds older,” and find older R&B and jazz artists that way. My mom influenced me a bit as well because she likes a lot of R&B and Pop.
Q: When did you start your show and what was that process like?
L: I started last semester, so I am fairly new. I don’t know why I was just really in my head for the first show and made things more complicated than they needed to be. I used to write scripts and say every single word. The process was daunting at first, but after a couple of shows, I was like “it’s not that deep” and I’m just playing music for a couple of friends to listen to. Now I just see the show as so uniquely my own and I’m just excited to go in each week.
Q: Why did you start your show?
L: Music, curation, and radio mean a lot to me and I wanted a platform to do that and learn. Before WECB, I wanted to start a podcast or something similar to my show but WECB allows me to learn as well as play my music. I feel like also Emerson can be an echo chamber for music taste and I wanted to sort of break that bubble. I want to encourage those with similar tastes and ideas; for a show to be able to do that.
Q: Can you take me through the process of curating music each week?
L: Sometimes it’ll be completely random and sometimes I’ll be super niche about it. Sometimes I categorize things by sections of the diaspora. So for example, I’ll play three songs back-to-back from Caribbean artists, three songs back-to-back from African American artists, and three songs back-to-back from African artists. Sometimes I’ll do it by vibe or genre. Or, it’s just music I’ve had on rotation or it’s a themed show. There are times I do tribute shows or throwback themes. This week I’m doing a tribute show to MF DOOM because Monday will be the anniversary of his passing.
Q: How do you go about selecting various genres for each week since you have such a big range of artists and styles?
L: What I love about the process is that it’s all music that I do like, it’s just music I listen to daily. I have such diverse music tastes, so I make it a reflection of the music I listen to regularly. I get such a creative spark and energy from every type of genre. I want the music to be a reflection of me.
Q: What do you want people to take away from your show?
L: There is so much underrated beauty within the world of music. There is so much beauty in older music and niche genres. We are a product of our environment, so I don’t expect the average Emerson student to know a Nigerian funk artist from the ‘60s, but when you do challenge yourself with music it does reorient your taste and makes you question what it means to create specific genres of music. Being able to see the world in a new way through music is just beautiful to me.
Q: Who or what inspires you musically?
L: A big one is Funkadelic, one of my favorite groups of all time. I like this Black punk group from the ‘80s called Bad Brains, who actually invented moshing. Jai Paul released one of the coolest experimental albums of all time in the 2010s. Prince is one. I also really love old No Doubt and Gwen Stefani, as well as Flo Milli and Bob Marley. So it’s a lot of different types of people.
Q: What’s been your favorite episode so far?
L: I had one episode that was about nostalgic cleaning day music. It was stuff that my mom would play while cleaning on early Saturday mornings. I liked it because the selection was fun and all my friends were able to tune in and were texting me how much they loved the tracks.
Q: Finally, what is your favorite song at the moment?
L: It’s “Destroyed By Hippie Powers” by Carseat Headrest. But I have way too many.
You can listen to Diggin Thru Da Diaspora every Tuesday from 3-4 p.m. EST on www.WECB.fm. You can also follow @digginthrudadiaspora on Instagram for updates.