I don’t even need to introduce this person, I’m such a huge fan of his, you have no idea! His spoken word, his poetry and everything else he does that is creative. He’s so talented, his poems really do move me in multiple dimensions and his soul is deep beyond belief. You would be inspired by him, just as much as I am when I listen to him. This is what we spoke about:
Kwoli Black, how are you? Now guys, I’m so excited to be talking to this dude right now and that’s because I have been privileged enough to listen to his beautiful sound twice. Once last year, and then again this year. I just want to say that you are awesome! I love your work, and I know once people read this post about you my ‘REAL TALK WITH REE’ subscribers & followers are gonna love you too!
I’m good, I’m good. Thank you for having me. (laughs) Thank you so much, it means a lot and I’m honoured to be a part of this. This is dope.
Right now, you have your piece ‘Breathe’, which is out and about. You can get it on Spotify, as that’s where I first heard it, but if there’s anywhere else people can listen to it or buy it, let us know Kwoli. Anyway, I heard it and I loved it of course. I think I have one word to describe it and that’s deep. It’s intensely deep, I don’t even know if that makes sense ( laughs), but it sounds about right. When I heard ‘I can’t breathe’, I immediately thought about Eric Garner, that’s what he said whilst the police had him in a chokehold on the ground. And then ‘I can’t breathe’ was further used by the Black Lives Matter movement as a protest against police brutality and murder of the black community in America. How did the race, class and gender become prominent themes in your piece?
Err, yeah Breathe is also on Apple Music, Bandcamp and Soundcloud, erm, you should be able to find it just by typing my name in the search bar. (laughs) Thank you, no, I was going for deep so that make sense. Yeah, yknow, the Eric Garner incident played a big part in this piece coming to existence. I felt that it was natural y’know, it kinda just created itself. Race, gender and class, became a prominent theme in my poetry, i guess, err,not so much my music but in my poetry its very prominent because I feel like, words hold a lot of weight. So expressing these themes through spoken word, y’know, helps with getting a message across. I grew up, a black male who has gone through it all, racism, prejudice, the pressures of being a man in society. All of it. So I’m almost sharing a piece of myself. I’m telling a story from a very real, honest place.
I think it’s tough out here for a black man to prosper. There are a lot of forces out there attacking the life and the existence of the black man, it’s upsetting but it’s the reality. I study American and Canadian studies, and we talk about how feared the black man was and I think still is. I think the black man’s success, elevation and purpose is too big for comprehension and in some cases, leads to ignorance,then racism and prejudice, because people fear what they can’t understand. Let’s be real. How important is ‘brotherhood’ do you think in black urban communities? Because in your piece ‘Breathe’, you said: “How are we supposed to fight for each other when we’re fighting each other”. You had me clicking like I was at one of your shows (laughs)
(laughs) Ahh that’s dope, a lot of lines fly over heads so I’m glad you caught that. Yeah brotherhood to me is paramount to our journey as black people in this world. Without the help of a fellow brother OR sister, we won’t really get far y’know. If we’re all fighting each other, and trying to outrank each other or, y’know, compete on every level then we’re falling right into their hands. You know…THEY, that Khaled talks about, They don’t want us to succeed, y’know, they don’t want us to achieve greatness, so we gotta be the best, no pun intended, we can be, but we have to do that together y’know. Black men and women, we can all be great, if we stop fighting for our small square of safety, security or success, and we joined together to make that square a y’know, a field of dreams. That was corny I’m sorry (laughs)
“They take our fathers but then make fun of us for being fatherless”. This was like wow to me. It’s extremely true because active black fathers are a rarity. Key word is active people! (laughs). Obviously, there are some amazing, active fathers in the lives of many of their kids. I have one! Shout out to you. I love you. But, there are many people who don’t have their fathers in their lives and it becomes ‘normal’ in the black community. What are your views on that?
Aha..shoutout to the pops that are actually doing their job. You are appreciated just as much as the mommas. Umm..it’s tough for me to speak on that. Y’know, I know first-hand a lot of the time some fathers are in the home but never in the heart. So that sucks for some. I think that…there is a stigma, y’know, a profile or stereotype that black boys and girls grow up fatherless. It’s not always the case, but many times, THEY don’t realise our fathers are taken away at an early age, not just from y’know, being killed but systematic reasons also. Drugs, societal pressure, fear, depression, these things seep into the mental and become a poison. Many men are afraid to raise a child in the world we live in and so they leave, in an attempt to escape y’know, but they can’t because the deed is done, that kid is alive and there and you now have a responsibility y’know, but sometimes it’s too much for them. I think it’s something that needs a lot of work, from everyone. Even THEY. If some of our fathers didn’t fall under their hands and pass away, maybe things would be a little different. Perhaps we’d be stronger. Maybe THEY wouldn’t like that.
I completely agree with everything you are saying, it’s so true. The system doesn’t want these kids to have fathers, because the father is the anchor and the back-bone of many black communities and families. You take that away and were weak as a people, as a unit. Let’s back track a little bit, because I want to go back to last year where I heard your piece ‘ Sapiosexual’. Can I say that, I felt some type of way (laughs). My favourite 90’s film is Love Jones, and I felt like you were Larenz Tate and I was Nia Long. You had me feeling all types of things. We may have to talk privately because that kind of content is too X rated for my blog (laughs). What made you want to do such a piece?
(laughs then sighs) Yeah…that piece is something (laughs), well. Y’know, funnily enough Love Jones is my favourite movie and was a massive inspiration for writing that piece. (laughs) Ermm, I guess you could say, y’know, that uh, when I wrote the piece I was in a very particular headspace, but of course I can’t just put on paper that I’m…y’know, and that I wanna…y’know…(laughs) so i had to be clever with it. And what is more attractive than a woman, who is able to stimulate your mental as well as your physical. Y’know, its like mental foreplay, the more you learn or can teach or discover about someone, the more attractive they become. The more aroused, you become. I can’t lie though, I do love the reaction I get from the crowd when I perform that piece, it, uhh, it’s like a secret weapon. I don’t perform it often, but when I do, I get good results y’know (laughs). But I agree, errr, some of the thought behind the piece, might be a bit too explicit for this, I’ll end up giving my manager a headache (laughs).
For real, it’s just too much. I can’t deal (laughs), but we are grown so thats okay. I wanna know what is next for you and how can we stay connected to you?
What is next? Well, I am working on an EP, that is taking a lot longer to work on, then I planned, y’know, but the more I write, the more I realise who and what I am writing for. This EP, is called The Clouds Should Know Me By Now, (subject to change) (laughs), and is a 7 track EP with a couple spoken words and some music. It’s a really composition of some of my creations. Its a piece of my soul, a piece of Kwoli that a lot of people aren’t expecting to see, or y’know, hear. But a lot of work, and time is being put into it, with the help of my team, ThePACK, and hopefully in a couple months we can have something really, really dope to share to the world. Ermm, all you amazing people can stay connected to me on twitter, IG, snapchat, honestly if you hit me up I will genuinely respond. My @ is kwoliblack on IG and twitter and JoelKwoli on snapchat.
Listen to Kwoli Black’s track ‘Breathe’ :