It sure is getting hot out there, isn’t it? I do not mean the weather. Before I introduce you to the next featured artists on The Bl@ck List, I feel compelled to start with a check-in first.
Are you okay? How are you holding up?
It takes courage to turn on the news anymore. The monumental moves made for and against us as citizens in these (somewhat) United States seem to separate us from our neighbors more each day and well beyond social distancing. In my observations, I see two compelling responses to current events I need to offer up for reflection before we get into this.
Hear me out.
It seems many Americans are quaked to the core and called to action in the streets and online to educate, apply pressure; to promote equality and justice. Allies, you are appreciated in this endeavor with my whole heart. Conversely, an alternate response prevails amidst the population reading more like apathy. I imagine these individuals are so startled by the reality of the struggle; that they are so profoundly shooketh off their own axis with such intense force that they can only retreat towards familiar, safe routines and conversations that block their brutal confrontation with the unbridled truth.
If the latter sounds like I could be talking about you, get ready.
This is a confrontation. Not everyone can go to the gym, read a self-help book, and say they’ve done their part. I am sorry if that disturbs you. I am sorry if that seems insensitive, but you have a Black friend who is angry, scared, and waiting for you to join this revolution.
It’s July of 2020, and the men who shot Breonna Taylor to death in her bed back in March are still free. We, as a nation, are still stuck in that same old fight where a Black man gets shot going out for a run because white men felt uncomfortable looking at him. The tentacles of racist systemic oppression continue to reach out and choke our fathers in broad daylight and hang our boys from trees in the night. Our CIS and trans sisters are being stolen and brutally silenced.
We stand witness to the latest evolution of an age-old rebellion in this country. I am imploring you. Do not make excuses to sit this out or tune this out. Hard as it may seem, we have this opportunity today and each day we’re given to be the generation that finally deals with this matter, digs deep to uproot the injustices we’re built upon, and gets this nation to bravely become what it’s called itself since 1776.
For those of us who are out there having daily, uncomfortable conversations with the people we love; for those of us out there having to wade through memes and social media posts that pierce our friendships and professional relationships; and for those of us who can’t escape the responsibility we didn’t ask for as much as we didn’t volunteer to come build this country for free, but here we are half a millennium later very much alive and a part of this world and striving daily to make it better for those who will come after us with respect and gratitude to those who came before and bled for us, I bring you Three Kings bearing gifts of perseverance, awareness, and accountability.
Gallo – Rapper, Producer (Pgh)
Social Credentials: https://www.facebook.com/GalloLockNez1
Track: Ima Push – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXBlFqQKSMY&t=14s
Gallo is a triumphant rap artist-producer-collaboration king. Even if you’re not traditionally into hip hop, you’ve likely heard him a few times with his history of contributions to the NBA, NFL, ESPN, and Netflix (to name a few). Presently, Gallo has brand new music out on Spotify (linked above) with a single in the works! Featuring Catherine Manglani, the anticipated new track titled “Speak Up” will add to the ongoing conversation about racism and police brutality.
If you’re meeting Gallo for the first time, I’m honored to introduce you. What I’d like to do (and am going to do) is offer one of his older releases to start; winner of Green for All’s 2013 Dream Reborn Song Competition, “Ima Push.” When you feel beat down, this track has everything the soul needs to get back up and overcome. This is a fighter’s anthem. Pristine production promises you won’t miss a beat as Gallo gives you a chorus that kicks you uphill. “Ima Push” shows you the finish line and won’t let you quit until you get there.
Tash – Blues Singer/Songwriter (NY)
Social Credentials: https://www.facebook.com/tashmusicnyc
All Streaming Sites: https://tash.fanlink.to/SomethingAintRight
Tash, a strapping six-stringer working out of Harlem has had a prolific career playing with modern legends. The Black Crows, Gary Clark, Jr., and Lenny Kravitz are but a few. Originally of The London Souls duo, this young, accomplished singer-songwriter recently refocused, getting to work on a new solo project. Tash with brothers Matt, Dave, and JoJo Godfrey were preparing to embark on a summer season full of tour dates and also confirmed to play the Brooklyn Bowl and Radio City Music Hall until Covid-19 crashed down on us, but that hasn’t kept Tash from live streaming from home on Instagram and releasing new music.
Recently out is “Something Ain’t Right,” a fast-paced track that summons a call to action on the wings of soulful funk. This song is emblematic of the time we’re living in, and it demands your involvement. The video (linked above) is perfectly synced with visceral contemporary imagery punctuated by prominent Civil Rights moments and leadership throughout history. Expect to get emotional and rewatch this over and over. Tash describes it as “…the most important and personal work I’ve done as of yet.”
FRZY – MC, Freestyle Champion, BARbarian (Pgh)
Social Credentials: https://www.facebook.com/pg/OfficialFrzy
Episode: 1 – https://www.instagram.com/tv/CAgkVOWndvL/?igshid=1800zs26259c6
A wise man said, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and our final artist takes no exception. The epitome of Pittsburgh grit, FRZY has hustled his distinct, hard-hitting rap across the nation. From L.A. to Harlem (and many places in between) he has made appearances on 50 Cent’s “16 or Better” and shared stages with the late Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, Machine Gun Kelly, and Lil Wayne. I can’t write this without mentioning performing at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Rockstar Bikini Contest in Ohio (because it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger!).
Passionate about mentorship, FRZY has spoken at prominent universities across the nation including CMU, Berklee, and Harvard Law. Additionally, this Steel City king has been known to champion causes like WhyHunger’s Artists Against Hunger and Poverty. Headlining with acts like Dan+Shay at the Byham Theatre in a collaborative effort with Warner Bros. Entertainment and Star 100.7FM he helped raise over $50K for the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018.
With the list of accomplishments I’m skimming over (not to go without noting The Guinness World Record for Longest Freestyle), it might not surprise anyone that the 2018 Emmy Award winner was just invited into the Grammy Recording Academy of 2020 (just announced earlier this month).
Honestly, given the wealth of music and history to choose from, I was overwhelmed. FRZY offered I draw attention to his new project: The BARbarian, and I’m glad he did. My fellow music fans, a gauntlet hath been dropped. In an endeavor to revive rap’s original beauty, FRZY is releasing a series of episodes; each time teaming up with a different, notable DJ from the U.S. The beat gets dropped and FRZY rolls offering a challenge to the listener and other rappers. This is not about hooks nor drawled out “yeah’s” and “uh’s” in unison to make a song people will buy. This project is about showing off the depth of talent rap was built on and still has to offer. The BARbarian gloriously defends the realm of hip-hop culture and its integrity as an artform over a product or platform for consumerism and brings back a rogue charm those who remember its roots have been missing.