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.
“We will not compromise who we are to be accepted by the crowd. We want substance in the place of popularity. We want to think our own thoughts. We want love, not lies. We want knowledge, understanding, and peace. We will not lose, because we are not losers. We are lasers.” – Lupe Fiasco, Lasers Manifesto
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.