It’s normally very easy for me to define (or defend) my inspiration for writing songs. I have been a rapper-by-trade, emcee-by- culture for over 10 years. But, my latest release, “Osso Buco” was inspired by so many unravellings it’s hard to pinpoint what led to me recording it. So, I will start with the most direct cause: Black Lives Matter.
This slogan, mantra-like, that catapulted into the world’s consciousness a few years ago, isn’t an organization to me. It is the unheard scream of myself, and every other Black person that has walked the earth in America for the past 400+ years. The dividing line of racism was here before our current generation, but as a young child, I was privileged enough to believe it did not exist. My parents were both college graduates, one an educator, the other a chemist. I was afforded a much different upbringing than the default narrative tv and radio have given as the “Black male story.” I was better than blessed, and yet, once I reached adulthood, I immediately found myself in the “unknown Black suspect”category repeatedly throughout my life through no fault of my own.
It was in this current media hailstorm of unarmed Black men being gunned down by police that I felt it necessary to share my (our) pain. My love for Hip-Hop music is all-encompassing, and I rep the culture daily in every way possible. So, even though I am one, using my voice to speak for many through Hip-Hop is my way of “carrying on tradition.”
I was born and raised in Greenville, North Carolina, home to many traditions. Some of them I love, some I loathe. The most unconscionable is the label of our geographic area as “The Bible Belt,” because of the abundance of churches and synagogues that have been built here. Growing up as a Christian youth minister, it became apparent to me very early in life that “the walk” was much harder than “the talk,” and that “The Bible Belt”was only a traditional catchphrase when it came to following God’s orders to “love thy brother as thy love thyself.”
So, as a result, we are proclaiming to those who feel we don’t matter, “you cannot break us/’cause you didn’t f*cking make us.”
Simply put, Black Lives Matter isn’t hard to understand. All lives should matter to all of us. Black lives don’t matter enough to this country to be treated equally to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, as a result, we are proclaiming to those who feel we don’t matter, “you cannot break us/’cause you didn’t f*cking make us.” That unquestionably is my favorite lyric in “Osso Buco.”
However, wrapping a message that heavy into a song was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My producer Sharp can cosign, I was much more emotional delivering these lyrics than I had been on many other songs. The reason should be clear: most are aware that unarmed men have always been killed by untrained police officers, but the recording of the barbaric brutality of taking an unarmed man’s life as a job of the ones ordered to “protect and serve” says there is something severely wrong in the world.