Marcel P Black: Engaging the Struggle to Get Freedom
Let’s be honest and frank. America has serious issues as it relates to race relations. Yeah, I know, we thought it was all good when President Barack Obama was elected. However, his election helped to bring out those who have been hiding their true feelings as he concerned race relations. There are many questions that need to be answered. There are many discussions that need to be had. Some of those questions and discussions can only be answered and delivered by and within the Black community. That’s why Marcel P. Black and his new album, Cry Freedom, is a shot in the arm for what ails us today.
Though Cry Freedom seems to be self-explanatory, with Marcel P. Black, there’s a deeper meaning in it.
“Cry represents tears of joy as well as pain Africans in America face,” says MPB. “It represents us using our mind, body, & souls to speak out against a system of White Supremacy that doesn’t see us as human. Freedom is what we are aiming to be, and what we will engage the struggle to get.The title derives from the movie ‘Cry Freedom’, a film about Steven Biko, an anti-Apartheid revolution from South Africa. He was the father of the Black consciousness movement.
Like Public Enemy did in the 80s and 90s, Cry Freedom is just in time for the death of Black men at the hands of the police. Like most, MPB knows that all police are not bad. Yet, he also knows that who is bad and who is good doesn’t mean much when you watch someone lose their life over trivial stuff.
“At first when Brother Alton was lynched, I was about to push the album back because I didn’t want to seem like I was trying to exploit what was going on, even though I had begun the album 8 yrs prior and selected the release date in May 2016,” says MPB. “After speaking with Jasiri X of 1 Hood Media, Minister Willie Muhammed of from Mosque #46 in New Orleans, and my fans, I decided to push forward because the people told me they needed it. The album has been critically acclaimed both nationally and locally. I was even on the front page of the Advocate (the #1 paper for our parish) the day of my album release party. Several people are saying my album is the soundtrack to the city.”
But, unlike the 80s and 90s, there are not that many PEs, KRS-One’s, and Poor Righteous Teachers out there trying to guide the community in the right direction. The questions is always is Hip Hop doing enough?
“I feel like Hip-Hop’s voice as I pertains to speaking to the colony of African America never left. It just hasn’t been popular in the mainstream,” says MPB. The majority of these corporations aren’t owned by the people of the culture. There are men who are board members of or own stock in private prisons that lock young Black folk up for doing the exact same thing rappers glorify. That’s why most conscious rap music is underground. Now you have Kendrick, K.R.I.T., T.I. making noise in the mainstream which is really cool, but we have so much foolishness still out there. It’s a definite lack of balance, that’s why I always support & promoter indie emcees who still has the content reflective of the conditions we truly live in.”
The great thing about MPB and what makes him a dope emcee is the fact that he is more than just a rapper. He lives what he raps about. That gives him the credibility that everyone who encounters him respects.
“I’ve always been blessed to have an occupation that deals with my passion, working with young Black people. That’s where the majority of my activism comes from, building with and advocating for young people,” states MPB. “I’m a youth development worker by trade, as I’ve done everything from running an after school asset based Hip-Hop University for teens, taught 6th grade social studies, taught chess for elementary aged youth, and I’m currently employed as a mental health counselor. A former business partner of mine & I started a grassroots organization, People 1st, and at our very first benefit concert we raised thousands of dollars for the children of Alton Sterling, per the family’s request. We very recently attended a conference in Baltimore, MD with the Transformative Justice Coalition and we convened and strategized on different ways to engage young people to vote in our local communities. For the rest of the fall I will be focusing on getting folk to the polls, having voters registration tables at all of my events, and making folk award of the candidates on the ballot.”
Marcel P. Black understands the plight of the African American in this great country of ours. He understands what freedom means and the sacrifices of those who have fought and died so that we all can enjoy freedom. Yet, he understands how easily that freedom can be snatched away. That’s why he knows that we can’t just speak freedom. Sometimes, we have to cry freedom.
Support this album. The community needs it.