"That gift that kept givin' us light and keeps givin' advice
Took on a life of its own and keeps livin'"
Invoking place and geography, the intimacy of inherited sounds, the fabulously fast scratch announcing the arrival of an intergalactic phenomenon, making everything from nothing that is something in the hands of urban griots creating culture, Black Thought just released "A Love Letter to Hip Hop."
Standing in what appears to be a sizeable empty vault or small warehouse with a screen behind him, the black and white video features Black Thought with a beanie hat, dark sunglasses, his full salt-n-pepper beard, black shirt, and a zipper-detailed leather jacket with some gleaming white kicks.
Acapella legacy, with the only sounds being the spraypaint can and the occasional click of a camera, the ode traces the origins of a globalized culture of local memory and creative ecologies, the founders, the elders, the 'there would not be X without Y,' the women present from the beginning, the polycultural genealogy of gendered genius, the fashions that transformed the fashion industry, the beats, and rhythms that move bodies, ecosystems, and galaxies, the capitalist capitalizing on struggle and creativity, Black Thought is "theory itself," riffing on Jared Sexton.
"Beneath the flickering lamp post we dance
Managing to keep the kick of the amp closer than
What some refer to as the Spirito Santos
That spanned days of Dapper Dan through June Ambrose.
"We rose to become entire ecosystems
It's wild to think about how long the people
Have listened now
Fifty years down the line, we could spark this
My eternal beloved hip hop is where our hearts live
And that's word, I'm not the herb
Understand what I'm saying, saying
Saying, saying, saying."
The in-between of these stanzas map Black joy in all the hues of emotions, the calendars of transformation, and the temporalities of infinity. The background video is a visual recovery of historical images and their contemporary progeny of all the elements of Hip Hop: the artists, places, streets, and elements represented in the video are worth revisiting, slowly.
I've always thought of lyrics as letters, but not all joints are love letters.
The lyrics are available here. Cue the remixes!