Black Music In The Times Of White Rage
Music, in the times of protest, anarchy, and white rage is always settling — can put things in perspective as the fabric of this country is being ripped from its seams by white rage, by the actions of white people who are fighting for a leader that has done no one any real good.
So in protest I am listening to one of the most revolutionary Black albums I know of — Paris’s The Devil Made Me Do it. A very empowering and impactful musical collage of justice words and the calling out of racism, it punches white protest and privilege in the face with the truth of the Black condition in the U.S. I need it like I need a cup of water in the morning.
This album — responsible for my development as a Black Abolitionist and poetic freedom fighter is welcome as we face anti-blackness, as we experience a lethal racism in this country as Black people and People of Color. The devil — used by the Nation of Islam as a description of white people — mainly “blue-eyed” white people — in the album title for me speaks to the devilish energy we are feeling, we are seeing in these present times.
I am also listening to one of the best rap/hip-hop albums ever recorded in my opinion. It is the ultimate ode to everything Black, everything hip-hop in a distinct musical fashion. Its revolutionary rhetoric pushes me as I strive for people of African descent in new, innovative, and refreshing ways. This album is also my lifeline into everything Africa. That album is Mos Def and Talib Kweli are BlackStar.
This Black revolutionary production reminds of legendary ancestor poet Amiri Baraka’s work; Gill Scott-Heron’s early work; Nina Simone’s singing about racial injustice wrapped up in one complete project. It is hip-hop, bebop, soul music, a book of healing poetry. When I listen to this album it puts me in a good place. I thrive off of its energy, its truth, its ability to craft very real images of what the culture of hip-hop represents.
I also need the musings of the one called Nasir Jones a.k.a. Nas. If people never believed he would be the truth-telling rap artist he has turned into, then they were not at all listening to his second released It Was Written.
They overlooked the intro to that album.
But Nas is special for my relaxation, for me being kept aware of our situation in the United States. Why? Because he has three albums I run to when I need this understanding. Those albums are It Was Written, Hip-Hop Is Dead, and Untitled.
With the recent terrorism that has taken place in our nation’s capital, Black music, my people’s music is what I am leaning on for peace, for truth, for honesty, for liberation.
I cannot find the same words, the same kind of music, anywhere else. The words of protest from the Black mouths of Black musicians are medicinal.
We are pushing back at a whiteness that has been granted every liberty and caution — when we know had those people been Black on the lawn of the Capital, there would have been bloodshed and arrests.
J-Live, a rap artist and producer from Brooklyn, New York, has an album called How Much Is Water? that is very healing for me. Especially the song Warm Currents. There are water sounds, vibes in the song — which makes it beautiful to zone out to. The album has a very engaging cover. When you see it you are drawn to the art, subsequently, you are glad you found the music.
Although I have not mentioned any complete albums by any women, Maxwell’s album Embrya represents the feminine energy enough to carry me through when I reach for one of my favorite artist’s work.
Embrya, like saying embryo, is a journey through everything woman in my perception of the album. The music is soft; the lyrics are an homage to woman, women. I can listen to this album in the evening, or right before I go to bed, and it has the same affect for me.
I will continue to embrace Black music through these hectic times. The Black aesthetic within Black music is providing me with all of the comfort, protection, and motivation I need at this point in time.
As this country divides further and further it its seams, my soundtrack will be all of the Black music I have listened to in my lifetime as a Race Man.