One of my Maryland boys has been mentioning Eze Jackson to me for quite some time now. But like the BITM crew talked about in our podcasts, there is just SO much music being cranked out there now that I haven't had time to peep dude yet. But when said boy mentioned his new single was called Un-Apologetically Black, I knew I had to make some time to give it a spin.
The current state of social unrest in our nation requires people with influence to voice their concerns and champion change. Of course this should be spearheaded by our government, but we know how that plays out. While it is not in an entertainers job description to speak on such matters (it is not something we are used to, at least not since the Civil Rights era), we have seen a handful of public figures talk and walk for their beliefs. Athletes like Kaepernick or musicians like Common or T.I. have used their platforms to bring this social injustice to the forefront. Kaepernick's now famous kneel has sparked conversations and birthed a slew of public protests from other NFL players. Common and T.I. have taken to the booth to use their gift to speak on the subject of police accountability in regards to the rampant killings of unarmed men of color.
Baltimore native Ezekiel Jackson provides another point of view of this terrifying new reality. Now in his mid 30s, this indie emcee is well aware of who he is in the rap arena. Eze is a new breed of the socially conscience emcee, and he uses his intellect to address the ever changing social landscape. Un-Apologetically Black is a complex song that takes on the complex issues facing our country today. In two verses Eze touches on: guns, Donald Trump, voters, false minority stereotypes, civil rights, Malcolm X, jazz, slavery, soul food, our embarrassingly sub par public schools system, Tupac, self hate, skin bleaching, privilege, police brutality, Fox News, street violence and single parent homes (and I'm sure a few other themes I might have missed). While that might seem like a lot to tackle in a single track, it is actually a perfect microcosm to the current issue. There is no simple solution. Police brutality has been around longer than the invention of the camera phone. Distrust and fear of law enforcement is not new to people of color. Stop and frisk was not invented by Giuliani. Racist people were around before social media. Even if every cop that killed an unarmed person faced some sort of consequence, we still would not solve the root of the problem. Like Eze raps, it starts with kids going to schools with no heat and old books, it continues with the constant barrage of fear mongering and false stereotypes promoted by "news" stations, and of course culminates with who we choose as our government leaders.
Eze Jackson would be disingenuous if he would finish the track with a solution. There are singular steps that should be taken, yes. Like, if possible, police should stop shooting to kill when faced with an unarmed person. Instead Eze takes the approach of a good teacher, providing all the information and letting the students come the conclusion on there own. Of course Eze has his perspective, but it comes from a genuine place. If people didn't know about Baltimore before the 2015 riots, they know now. Like most low income and predominantly black/Hispanic neighborhoods, many areas in Maryland have a strained police-citizen relationship. Eze can speak on this from his perspective. And it is his perspective that has the most power. Many people that "don't get it" need to hear as many perspectives as they can. If after that they still want to hold up an All Lives Matter sign, then there is nothing else you can do.
Peep the deep track Un-Apologetically Black below.