Posts filed under music

50 Shades of Black feat. in Music Video by Fahamu Pecou ft/ and Okorie Johnson


You may recall from my earlier post with a photo series about the filming of an Atlanta Hip Hop Music Video featuring Fathers and their sons.  Well...the music video is here!

What more could I ask for for Father's Day? So blessed to know these men, to be transformed by their witness, and to be invited with my son to take part in a revolutionary act. The more I meditate on it, the more it is making sense that Fahamu Pecou and Jamila Crawford are on the cover or our upcoming book...and that Okorie Johnson, the brother playing the cello is featured inside its pages. I salute you both, all the men featured in the video, Roni Nicole and Maurice Evans for bringing it to life and Kari Mackey for making me a father in the first place. WATCH!


Part 1: Why the Kenyan lioness should listen to the Jamaican hummingbird’s tunes lamenting “politricks” of yesteryear.

On December 3rd, 1976, Bob Marley, his wife Rita and some friends were wounded by gunmen at his home in Kingston, Jamaica and in 1980 Jamaica saw close to 900 murders: what’s the connection? In 1976 and 1980 there were bitterly contested national elections between the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party.

The last few general elections have not been mired by as much violence. Everyting hasn’t always been irie during Jamaican elections. Jamaica’s experience with election violence in the post colonial period offers salient lessons to be imparted to Kenya and other countries that experience a high incidence of violence and murder during elections from Jamaica’s reduction of election violence incidence through distrust of “big man” politics and forging of a strong national identity.

As I write this I’m attending a daylong conference on Kenyan election violence: “Fragile Democracy? The 2013 Kenyan elections between reform and regression”.  Although two very different places I see some parallels between the two situations based on my conversations over the years with Kenyans and following the news coverage of Kenya’s recent elections. The memories of the over 1000 of Kenyans who were murdered in the aftermath of 2007 election and the haunting conversations that I had with Kenyan friends are still very much present.

Crystal .jpg

Crystal  was one of my first friends in college. We instantly clicked. An 18 year old me was utterly fascinated with anything African. She was the first Kenyan woman I met, and to finally get to have conversations about all the things I read about Kenya as a teenager was bliss for me. She was surprised by my knowledge of Kenya’s history, I remember how taken a back she was when I was asking her about Jomo Kenyatta, the Swahili coast and asking her about the tensions between Kenya's many ethnic groups. A few weeks into our freshman year she introduced me to Njeri and Wangari, two of her friends who were going to Salem College, another school in Winston-Salem. I also became good friends with the both of them. I loved hearing them speak Swahili –mellifluous is how I’d describe it—I remember them telling me that they liked my accent, and we all loved reggae and dancehall. To this day whenever I hear Brown Skin by Richie Spice, I think of these three Kenyan friends and remember how we bonded over cultural exchange.

The first time I realized the centrality of the ethnic identity to Kenyan political sentiments was in the run up to the 2007 presidential elections. It was at this juncture that it was clear that Wangari and Njeri were Kikuyu and Crystal was Luo. Crystal was very vocal about her support for Raila Odinga, who like her was Luo and a close family friend. She exhibited almost blind support and was effusive in her praise of the man and exhibited unwavering belief that Raila’s victory was imminent. I still remain somewhat scarred by the conversations I had with the three of them in the initial stages of the violent social upheaval in the aftermath of an election marred with irregularities and where Odinga is believed to have been robbed of the presidency. Needless to say Crystal was shattered.

Fast forward five years. We are now 23 year olds. You can imagine how much of a shock it was for me to hear that Crystal had relinquished her job with the EU in Nairobi to become campaign manager for a Muslim candidate from Northern Kenya. Say whattt???!!! This surprised me on so many different fronts, I had to get to the bottom of this what had changed about how the Christian Luo woman saw herself to make this unexpected turnabout. Had her “Luoness” waned???  A hundred more thoughts had come and gone in a matter of minutes. And, then we Skyped.

The course of that conversation made it  clear that both of us had matured as political beings, no we had evolved. The naiveté, unbounded idealism, and the political views and attitudes inherited from our parents had in some ways evaporated or undergone some critical assessment and reworking. This bodes well for Kenya’s future. This is political maturation both at the micro and macro levels. During the conversation that ensued I told Crystal that Kenya and other countries that have to contend with social divisions and high levels of social inequalities and resulting outbursts of conflict such as election violence could learn from Jamaica.

To be continued…See Part II here.

Posted on May 2, 2013 and filed under music, history, education.



This is what I'm listening to today and (if you don't have it already) wanted to share it with you.  It actually been out since 2009, but is as timeless as the artists featured.  

I was on an exciting conference call today and J.Period was the topic of conversation for a number of reasons.  I've been listening to his compilations for the rest of the day.  Enjoy! <3 50 Shades of Black.

From the press release:  Acclaimed DJ/Producer, J.Period, and rising Somali-born MC, K’NAAN, are pleased to announce a unique and powerful remix project, paying tribute to the lasting legacy of these musical giants. Weaving afro-beat, reggae, ska, folk music and rock into this genre-bending musical experience, The Messengers stretches the boundaries of hip hop—and the mixtape genre itself. Remixing the classic work of Fela, Marley and Dylan, The Messengers captures the timelessness of their sounds and the continued urgency of their messages. The result, as fans have come to expect from J.Period, is like no mixtape you’ve ever heard.



Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

A hip hop music video where the entire premise is black men and their sons?  Where they do that at?

Many things have been said about Fahamu Pecou.  That he "is the Shit" is the most common and probably most comprehensive moniker that he has gone by for the last several years.  Just to nuance things a bit, I'd like to add that he is super intelligent, unreasonably passionate...and slightly off.  Yeah the dude isn't like most cats you run into on a daily basis.  And the decision to paint a series of self portraits titled All Dat Glitters Ain't Goals, record an album by the same title, and shoot a music video to accompany each painting is proof of all of the above.

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Titled Heir Conditioning, the song that was behind the gathering of men, boys, and babies in an abandoned lot in Atlanta, GA, is about the unfortunate plight of many young black males BUT ALSO about the less commonly told story of the loving, nurturing, strong, positive, examples of so many fathers in the black community.  As much of Pecou's other projects (and Pecou as a caricature of himself), this work is interlaced with high brow wit, humor, and satire.  As he says on his latest blog titled Art.Rap.Scholarshit., "if you're not careful you may learn something before it's done".

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

We arrived on set at 10am...already an anomaly for the hip hop world, and everything was immediately all love.  Kids were playing soccer.  Dreadlocs  and dust was flying everywhere and my son couldn't wait to be in the midst of it all.  What started off as a small gathering of a few early birds quickly turned into something that can really only be described in one word: beautiful.

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Roni Nicole and Maurice Evans guided, directed, and filmed a group of men who at first glance couldn't have been any more different from each other.  On the set were gentlemen wearing purple pants and others in freshly creased denim with a blazer and necktie.  Tattoos adorned the faces, necks, and arms of some while sunglasses, scarves, and long sleeve button ups did others.  To add to the beautiful display of juxtaposed "Fahamu-ness", Okorie Johnson arrived on set later bearing a chelo and wearing a shirt that read, "this t-shirt helped build a school in Africa".

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

It was something great to be a part of and I can't wait to post the finished product.  I'm honored to be among such a group and look forward to connecting further with those who I already knew and exploring the possibilities of what I might build with those I did not know.

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Atlanta Music Video features black fathers and their sons

Fahamu is growing to be a great colleague, creative partner, and friend of mine.  We are fortunate to have some of his work featured in 50 Shades of Black.  We are lucky to have him and the oh-so-fly Jamila Crawford grace the cover of our upcoming ebook...photographed by TT Coles...who of course was on deck for the video shoot.



There are a lot of folks to check out now and that is exactly how we like it.  We are a growing community of artist who believe that all of our futures as artists is dependent on each other...and you for your support.

Show some love.


(June 10, 2013)


-Carlton Mackey, Creator of 50 SHADES OF BLACK

new website | ebook | Coffee Table Book | Exhibit | Teaching Tools

...coming soon