It started with a birthday—a birthday in Trinidad. Adam Cooper gathered some friends and family and threw himself a party. He played a bunch of his favorite tracks, on a borrowed controller, for his first unofficial set.
Adam, a.k.a. foreigner, is a Swiss knife of innovation, single-handedly teaching himself how to DJ and go on to produce some of LA’s most memorable Afrodiasporic events. As I sat with him on the eve of Roadblock™, his latest underground Afro/Caribbean operation, Adam shared some memories with me of growth between cities and the impact this had on his identity. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, raised in Caracas, Venezuela then NYC, the moniker, foreigner, speaks to the multiplicity of his experiences traversing the map.
It is important to note that I write this as a non-black person, invited into Adam’s remembrance of his own black experience dispelling the notion that blackness is monolithic. Sharing reflections of his childhood in Caracas, followed by Brooklyn and NYC, Cooper uninhibitedly recalled the anti-blackness surrounding him and his family in Venezuela specifically. He grappled with questions of identity early on in boyhood, struggling to make sense of this racist mistreatment by his peers and those around him. New York City provided a safe haven of cultural connection where he could finally relate to the many diasporic identities within the city itself. In the early 2000s, Cooper studied International Business and Marketing at Howard University, where he noticed how fragmented black identity was, amongst the student body, different from his formative years in NYC. This would later influence what would become foreigner—an all-encompassing creative avenue for the multidisciplinary Adam Cooper.