The late Congressman John Lewis loomed larger than life in the halls of Congress, both for his exemplary character, as well as for his heroic contribution to the civil rights movement. He once referred to music as the gas that helped fuel activism during the movement, with its universal power to unify humanity. And although we have come a long way since the 1960’s, it is inarguable that the United States is currently in tenuous social and political times.
At this particularly polarized time, rapper Abel Meri is using his art to highlight societal inequities from his perspective. His latest release “#BLM” offers thoughtful social commentary on the current state of affairs as he sees them. A quartet of soulful instrumentals lay a lush canvas for the four track EP.
When asked what his inspiration for the project was, Abel cited the death of George Floyd as the primary catalyst for it. “It felt like Rodney King all over again but worse, and it would have been unthinkable for me to live through this historic time as an artist and not speak about it” said Meri. Artists have historically provided social commentary and voiced political activism through their art. Rap music particularly more than most other genres of music always had an explicit social and political consciousness to it. Artists like Public Enemy, J. Cole, Lupe Fiasco and Immortal Technique to name a few, have created notable contributions to the conscious rap repository. It appears that Abel is of the same elk. Several prominent rappers like Killer Mike and Mysonne have also transitioned from rap to activism, and although Abel says he is content as an artist for now, his awareness and sense of being woke is palpable.
At a hyper-political and divided time, it seems as though civil discourse is merely a distant memory in the rear-view mirror. Therefore, a thoughtful expression of views through music is a welcome and refreshing change of pace. Whether or not you agree with the views, “#BLM” manages to succinctly cite points of grievance that are both factually accurate and heartfelt. However, the solutions to the grievances are far less clear. Truthful discussion is a good starting point. The willingness of society to hear to opposing viewpoints is integral to any sort of meaningful, sustainable progress.
The warm reception to “#BLM” has prompted the DMV MC to quickly follow up with a forthcoming LP titled “Truth to Power.” Slated to release later this summer, “Truth to Power” will pick up where “#BLM” left off, and will include production by DJ Pain 1.
“#BLM” is currently available on all digital platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.