One month after spending a good portion of a late attempting to navigate the grief, loss, and shock of Imanu Amiri Baraka's transition from elder to ancestor, I am ready to share this with the world. It is a raw first response. In respect for his family those who knew personally, I delayed sharing this. I'm compelled to today. Àṣẹ
I had an early introduction to Gil Scott-Heron's poetry and music. My father has a pretty decent sized record collection, and when I was a child, it was massive. By the time I was 4 or 5, I knew how to operate the record player and some of the basic functions on the EQ.
Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers was one of the most anticipated albums of 2011, partially because it was supposed to be released during the summer of 2010. Atlantic Records unceremoniously placed the album in post-production purgatory, and by fall it seemed that the album would never see the light of day. A massive petition of over 32,000 signatures and a planned protest outside of the New York headquarters of Atlantic Records on October 7, 2010, tipped the scale in the opposite direction. All seemed right with the world. The underdog triumphed, and the emcee known for refusing to dumb down his lyrics would release yet another insightful, lyrical opus.
The Coen Brothers 2010 adaptation of the 1968 Charles Portis novel True Grit lives up to its title. As a second adaptation, the film is likely to be measured by many against the 1969 incarnation starring John Wayne. Considering the different social environment in which each film was released, and the alterations in the tone of Westerns made during the 60's and 70's by Sergio Leone, the 2010 version of True Grit is an arid, morally ambiguous tale of retribution.
It is no secret to many of you that I view art not as a product, but as a vehicle for culture. Nas and Damian Marley's Distant Relatives project brings this philosophy to the forefront of two genres of music. As a fan of both artists, as a lover of Hip-Hop and Reggae, as a participant in the culture, as a writer, and as a part of the African Diaspora, I believe this album to be a milestone. Not only is Distant Relatives an album, it is a documentary. Through multiple outlets, Distant Relatives explored the connections between Hip-Hop, Reggae, and Africa.
This clip is a testament to the eternal genius of James Baldwin, who was a leader amongst leaders. Shout out to Jeffrey Severe (click to follow him on Twitter) for the original post, found on his blog, which includes the transcript of Baldwin's interview. This fan video captures the spirit and sentiments echoed across Nas' most recent album, Nigger (I will never call it "Untitled"). This is powerful.