Asseem Waajeed (Robert O’ Bryant IV) is a Detroiter, musician, educator, and as his chosen name translates; the mighty revealer. Born on the Eastside of Detroit to parents Frances Alberta Davis and Robert O ‘Bryant III. Waajeed came to be nurtured in an environment of hard work through his fathers’ family owned trucking business, while his mother left indelible music impressions on him as a child. She often played Southern blues as they traversed through the main road arteries of the city together.
Waajeed, who was first named through the lineage of his patrilineal namesake, Robert O’ Bryant, was raised in Conant Gardens on Detroit’s east side, which became an incubator for a budding music scene that spanned from Techno, Funk, and underground hip hop in the City of Detroit. Out of this neighbourhood came influential musicians such as Donald Bird, Amp Fiddler and J Dilla. At the age of fourteen, Waajeed began collaborating as DJ and producer with J Dilla, T3, and Baatin, becoming one of the founding members of the group that would eventually be named Slum Village. He was offered a scholarship to the College for Creative Studies at nineteen for visual arts, solidifying his keen sense for making art across a variety of disciplines.
In 2000, along with Saadiq (Darnell Bolden), he organized the Platinum Pied Pipers. The two first met via Slum Village rapper Baatin in 1992, and eventually began collaborating on three consecutive albums. The duo, active for several years, produced compilation albums with Georgia Anne Muldrow, Tiombe Lockhart and Dwele. The label Bling47 was formed by Waajeed in 2002, which marked a transcendence into more independent work by the artist. With desires to celebrate his Detroit hometown Bling47 became the perfect platform to amplify musical giants in his community. Waajeed was the first to sign the inimitable producer, J Dilla, and released Dilla’s 2003 instrumental albums, Vol. 1: Unreleased and Vol. 2: Vintage through the Bling 47 label. Also released in 2003 on the label was Waajeed’s solo project B.P.M., which offered indelible tracks like Elzhi and Tron. The latter being the first of its kind; melding both Techno and hip hop sensibilities to elicit a glitchy keyboard that follows a seductive and errant drum pattern.
In 2012 Waajeed launched Dirt Tech Reck, distributing music projects by Tiny Hearts, Amp Fiddler and Electric Street Orchestra. One of the label’s acts is Complex Movements, of which Waajeed is a part. The group is an interdisciplinary visual arts and music cadre that has produced site specific installations in tandem with music sound scores that focus on apocalyptic narratives as informed by the literature of Octavia Butler. Most notably their ongoing work Beware of the Dandelions, defied artistic discipline, intersecting multiple creative approaches including: community organizing, design, hip-hop and electronic music, architecture, and theater.
In 2015, Waajeed founded the Underground Music Academy (UMA). Extending on the legacy of Underground Resistance, and the headquarters Techno Museum, Submerge, UMA is a music school that champions artistic independence, autonomy, as well as collective art making. Waajeed’s work as a musician, and community organizer has culminated in his work with UMA, merging his desire to care for the collective with his dedication to artistic precision.
AGENT: Alasdair Howie