In 2012-2013, I often referred to myself as “The Revolutionary Hippie,” a moniker meant to conflate my harmonious aspirations with my revolutionary realities. I saw people as people, though I knew that, as a Black man, it wasn’t that simple. I thought women and men should be equal, but knew we had a ways to go on both sides of the gender divide. As the years went on, I quietly retired the moniker as it didn’t reflect where I was mentally. By 2015, I was a man who had to rebuild himself and his family. I didn’t have the wherewithal to be a voice for the people when I could barely be a voice for myself.
The further I got away from that “Revolutionary Hippie” mindset, the more I saw that it was needed in the world. The world is beautiful and humans are beautiful at their core. However, there is a mask of ugliness throughout our current existence that keeps people from achieving their own personal greatness. Be that racism, sexism, or any of the other -isms, we’ve been headed down a slippery slope for years. The COVID-19 pandemic, the current administration’s handling of issues related to race and COVID and people getting tired of having to fight tooth and nail for basic human decency have all exacerbated these matters.
Through that desire to unify but also distinctly pledge that my life matters as a human and a Black man, Songs For… 2 came to be.
The album itself is two sides of a coin. The first six songs are a bit more optimistic, self-contained and “kumbaya”-like, ending with “Cry” (one last song for Mama Young). The last six being more revolutionary, empowering and taking a hard stance on issues I’ve discussed at points. While we are all human, albeit with different ethnicities–something I mention on track three, “Rebirth of the Revolutionary Hippie”–there’s no escaping the matters at hand. Even the “love songs” on the album have a certain “I need my queen” philosophy behind them.
I don’t want to be a hashtag. I don’t want to be someone who’s looked at as a villain or a terrible father just because of my skin tone. I can’t let my children grow up in a world where they always have to fear for their safety from the very people who are supposed to protect us. I’m a thirty-two-year-old man. I shouldn’t have to still fight for people to hear and respect my opinions and my very right to live. However, here we are, in 2020, and I’ve got to drop a song like “Beat of My Own Drum” or “Tired But Not Broken.”
Songs For… 2 is an album that closes one chapter but possibly starts another. I’ve never been the type of person to just stand by while the world burns. However, over the past five years, I’ve become more about myself and my family. Part of it was because of my mother’s death. One of my closest friends, someone I’ve known for about 20 years named Shannon, referred to that mindset as being self-absorbed and self-destructive. I was slightly blind to the world when I was so focused on me. Because of her calling me out on that, I’ve made more of an effort the past year or so to buck that trend and it’s helped exponentially. The fact that BCB 2 had as many guest spots as it did was part of this self-revolution and self-evolution.
If I’m going to help carve a world for my friends and family and be the “King” I say I am, I can’t just be about “I.” I can’t be a lone wolf. I can’t be so preoccupied with thinking about my mother’s death randomly that I lose focus of what’s going on in the present. It’s not what she would’ve wanted and it’s not any way to honor her. I’ve cried my last tears for Mama Young. I can’t keep crying, especially if I want to continue to be a stand-up father, man, and revolutionary against the racist patriarchy we’ve seen amassed over the years.
Am I perfect? Hell, no. Is my approach without the need for refinement? Also no. I’ve got a ways to go to achieve my personal nirvana, my personal “Promised Land.” However, Songs For… 2 served as an epiphany. Even though I don’t have all the answers, as long as I march to the beat of my own drum and keep true to my goals and beliefs, the sky’s the limit. The original Songs For… dealt with my rebirth after damn near killing myself because of poor decisions. Its sequel deals with my further maturation and the rebirth of my revolutionary spirit.
I hope you all love S4 2 as much as I loved crafting it. Quarantine brings creativity, but it also brings a lot of self-reflection.
Peace be with you all always.