This summer there will be two Hip-Hop albums being released by two entirely different Hip-Hop artists. One entitled “Yeezus” by pop icon and household name, Kanye West. The other entitled “A Different State of Black” will be self released by an independent artist by the name of adVerSity. Two separate artists, two completely opposite levels of fame, but something tells me the subject matter might be fairly similar on both projects.
Let me preface this by saying my purpose for this blog isn’t a clever ploy to generate hits for my project. It isn’t even to say that my album should get the same level of attention as a mainstream Hip-Hop artist on the path to being a legend. This is to point out the simple fact that after hearing Kanye’s first two singles, I think we may have a similar state of mind going into our upcoming projects and the reasoning behind it may be rather simple to explain.
First things first, Kanye West has captured the hearts and attention of many Hip-Hop fans from young to old, from the mainstream to the underground. He is well known for two things, his dedication to his craft and his, albeit controversial at times, “tell’em how you feel” persona. You can always sense where Kanye is emotionally in his life by the overall vibe of his albums. His vision to bring backpack rap to the mainstream on “College Dropout“, the pain of losing his mother on “808’s & Heartbreaks” or the bitter taste in his mouth after the split with Amber Rose on several of the tracks on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy“. Whatever Kanye is currently feeling will permeate itself into the creative direction of his project.
I gravitated to Kanye’s music over the years because the passion is there and it’s apparent. He wears his heart on his sleeve and whether you want to hear it or not, he’s going to express his honest opinion on a variety of topics. I myself as a Hip-Hop hobbyist, if you will, have always focused on being as honest as I can in my music. Be it talking about the bullying and isolation I experienced as a child on “Me & My Mic“, the dangers I experienced growing up in the hood on “Never Forget” or my contemplation of suicide and if anyone would even give a damn on “If I Were To Die Tonight“, I’ve had no problem expressing vulnerability in my songs. I always felt it was important for someone to feel you emotionally to truly be a fan of your artwork.
I was sitting at home a couple of weekends ago when Kanye showed up on SNL and debuted his new records for Yeezus. I wasn’t a fan of the performance, mainly because I think a live atmosphere is the worst place to debut new music, but there was one thing that really stood out. He really seemed to be going in about race on these two songs. Kanye has never been afraid to say how he feels about racial issues (remember the telethon?), but his choice for New Slaves and Black Skinhead was puzzling until I started to think about it.
My current project A Different State of Black’s central theme is race and racial stereotypes. I wanted to take the idea of what exactly is being black in America and explore all sides of it. If that idea was a tree trunk, each track on ADSoB would be various branches elaborating on that tree’s existence, each telling its own story. I felt it important to touch on what it means to be black, dispel some stereotypes while also telling African Americans to stop falling into the patterns of said stereotypes. In order for us to grow as a community, don’t let negative stereotypes tell you what it means to be black. Journey through life with a different state of mind as a black person and thus the name A Different State of Black came about.
I felt it interesting how overtly black both of our projects might turn out to be and thought about what could of caused it and the conclusion I came to was simple.. we are both currently dating outside of our race. Kanye since his last album has started dating and is expecting a child with Armenia-American socialite Kim Kardashian. I myself since my last release have been dating and have two beautiful children with a Caucasian American woman. Kanye and I both express ourselves creatively in a field that glorifies the African American hood life of being a thug and a gangster. Neither of us really represents your average Hip-Hop artist in the mainstream eye. Add to that fact of being emotionally honest and now dating outside of our races (still controversial for some reason in 2013, Cheerios Commercial anybody) and you find a subconscious need to overcompensate. “You question my blackness and I’m going to throw it in your face even more.” The same can be said in the ghettos of America with young boys being raised by single mothers feeling the need to join a gang and being increasingly aggressive in a sad attempt to prove their manhood.
At the end of the day I’m not trying to place my self released project in the same stratosphere as a major label release by an established artist. I of course am human and would like as many people as possible to experience my creative works considering the hard work that goes into doing anything by yourself which isn’t your main source of income. I simply found it funny that me and one of my favorite artist maybe going through the same insecurities right now. Don’t question my blackness dammit!!!! I can’t wait for Kanye’s new album to drop to see if it’s a recurring theme throughout his album or if he was just looking for shock value in his singles.
Either way check out Yeezus on June 18th..
And check out A Different State of Black on July 2nd..