Baton Rouge, Louisiana emcee Marcel P. Black presents “#FreeBLKPPL”, the new J-Filly produced single from Seven, his new album featuring MegaRan and Victoria Cross. Supastition, Substantial, Tef Poe, and Mr. Franklin a.k.a Kamikaze from Crooked Lettaz appeared on his 2016 album Cry Freedom (Bandcamp), and Marcel’s name has appeared on XXL.com’s list of “12 Baton Rouge Rappers You Should Know” as well as HipHopDX.com’s “Up Next By DX” list. A husband, father, activist and youth development worker, Marcel has organized benefits for National World Aids Day, raised money for the children of Alton Sterling, and regularly speaks on panels and lecturing on the intersection between social justice and Hip-Hop in collegiate and high school classrooms. Marcel says his new single is about “the toxic relationship between Black people and freedom in Amerikkka. It’s about the fear I feel as a father under 45’s regime, as well as the decolonization of the African mind and ending the Slave and Master relationship dynamic between whites and the colony of African America.”
What made you decide to become a rapper?
My father is an independent gospel musician who plays several instruments, writes, and records all of his music, books all of his own gigs. I get my musical talent from him, except I grew up a child of Hip-Hop. Music was something that I’ve always done, and while I couldn’t sing or play instruments as well as my dad, I got his creative genes as it pertains to writing music and lyrics. I loved Hip-Hop culture and I wanted to be a part of it anyway I could.
What’s the first rap song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
Summer of 1989, I was five years old, I remember going into my older cousin’s room and he had the single cassette of LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad.” My cousin was a true head, and he often dressed in Adidas track suits with Kangols, so I thought it was him on the cassette. He then told me that wasn’t him, but a rapper named LL Cool J, and he played the song for me, and I was hooked. He taught me the words to “I’m Bad,” and I’ve been rhyming ever since.
How did “FreeBLKPPL” come together?
My producer J-Filly sent me the beat and I was immediately drawn to the sped up rock sample which reminded me of the late 90’s/early 00’s Rocafella production style. I listened to the vocal sample on the intro and hook and was inspired by the artist basically saying they “don’t have the right to love who they want to love, so they can only be with them in their dreams.” I have this theory that Africans in America are not free, because what happens to Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, and Trayvon Martin doesn’t happen to people who are truly free valued human beings. So I flipped the concept to as if I am in a relationship with Freedom and I only get to see her when I’m dreaming, because in reality what can happen to the aforementioned people can happen to me at any moment. I chose to talk about the fear I feel as a husband & father trying to fight the good fight with my music and work in the community, as well as how we as Black people need to fight to free our minds and end this slave/master relationship with the dominant society. I feel it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written.
What are your predictions for 2018?
In 2017 I challenged myself to embark on the #15StatesOrBust challenge, in which I independently book performances in 15 different states. At this moment, I’ve performed in 11, and hopefully by mid-November I will have completed all 15 and more, rocking in states in the Southwest, Gulf Coast, Mid-Atlantic, and New England regions. All this to say, in 2018 I will continue performing in new states/cities as much as I possibly can. I’m also looking to do my first shows in New York, L.A. and overseas, hopefully open on some tours, and release new music. Possibly start my own label.
What do you think the old school can learn from the new school and vice versa?
Being 34, I’m right in between what the young guys call “Uncle Rap,” and the old guys call “Mumble Rap (I call it ‘Panda Rap’).” I think the older emcees have to find a balance and making music that’s true to them but still fresh and new without sounding like the kids, all the while learning to take advantage of the new technology so they can advance their craft. I think the “Pandas” need to do their research on the culture and history of Hip-Hop, really learn to learn the art and craft as a 44 year old culture, not based on what’s how now. Make the art it’s on your heart to make, but make it in a sense that it carries on tradition. And take care of their business so nobody can exploit them or their art. I want my grandkids to love Hip-Hop the same way I love it, that doesn’t meant Hip-Hop has to be stuck in the 90’s in order to be “real Hip-Hop.” Both old and young need do our parts to keep the culture alive by pushing the culture forward.