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‘I’m Black As Jesus’: Local Emcees Loud And Proud In New Carolina Waves Cypher

In the lyric video "Black AF," four emcees create verses about systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement using metaphor and rhyme.
In the lyric video "Black AF," four emcees create verses about systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement using metaphor and rhyme.

Lena Jackson, Tagem, 2FLY KNG and Jooselord join verses about the systemic violence against Black bodies in “Black AF,” a raw black-and-white lyric video released by Carolina Waves.

Host Anita Rao explores the messages behind "Black AF" with Lena Jackson and Imani Pressley.While the cypher format oftentimes turns competitive, it is clear the four emcees are in full support of one another’s prowess and message as each step forward to speak truth to power. Backed by a dark and plotting beat crafted by Imani “Yaya Beatz” Pressley, the cypher expands the meaning of the Black Lives Matter movement through metaphor and rhyme.

Mir.I.am, the founder of Carolina Waves, is leveraging the curated cypher to open the floor for new voices in North Carolina’s rich underground hip-hop scene. Artists can send in a video of their original verses over Pressley’s beat. The winner will take the stage in the next scheduled cypher in Fall 2020.

Host Anita Rao dives into the poetry of “Black AF” and the history of Black artistry in social movements with Raleigh rapper Lena Jackson and Greensboro’s Imani Pressley, a Grammy-nominated producer and musician.


All proceeds from the single and t-shirt sales go to North Carolina-based nonprofits committed to anti-racism, including Democracy Green, Raleigh PACT, Raleigh Demands Justice, Emancipate NC and Advance North Carolina.

Copyright 2020 North Carolina Public Radio

Anita Rao is the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content. She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.
Grant Holub-Moorman is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show that features the issues, personalities and places of North Carolina.