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The BlackSon

'Everything you want to do has a cost of entry'

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Evan Dale

Evan Dale // September 16, 2023

Back on Buchanan Street. It feels like a fever dream, and not just because it’s 97 degrees out with a similar number representing the humidity on this August day in Middle Tennessee. It’s because the deja vu hits hard when meeting yet another revered lyricist on this historic block to have a conversation on foundations built, and what’s being stacked on top of it. Nashville is a hotbed. Fuck it if anyone reading can’t make sense of that fact at this point. The artistry - abundant in its roots triangulating lyricism, jazz, and bass-thumping Southern hip-hop - is as authentic as the Mississippi mud that breaches the banks of Memphis or the low clouds that suspend meloncholia above Atlanta. At a fry shop called Bag Lady, just North of Downtown, making time for us between teaching and lifting, the BlackSon - a local rapper with a booming voice, a dominant personality, and an even more attention grabbing grip on sociological intersections and poetry - speaks with us on his journey, his craft, his community, and how it’s all coming into confluence around him.




THE BLACKSON: I think it’s done. When we left Miami, I said “I’m not leaving until it’s done.”


RNGLDR: How long were you in Miami?


THE BLACKSON: Four days.


RNGLDR: Were you recording down there?


THE BLACKSON: Yeah, we touched some stuff up, post-production, skits, videos. That sorta thing.


RNGLDR: How long is the short film you’re working on?


THE BLACKSON: Ten minutes. It’s really scored by a whole other project, separate from Do Something Important. It’s very limited dialogue, it’s real trippy, and it’s ten music videos, but it’s really one narrative about taking some time for yourself. That’s the name of it: “Take Some Time for Yourself.” We’re gonna release it onto YouTube one minute at a time, reminiscent of how Tierra Whack did Whack World, but it’s my own story.


RNGLDR: That’s exciting.


THE BLACKSON: Yes! We’re entering it in a film festival too - the International Black Film Festival - it’s gonna be fun. I wanna make it a moment! It’s my first time dropping anything longer than like six songs.


RNGLDR: Yeah, ten is sizable for sure.


THE BLACKSON: And that’s just the short film - that’s just Take Some Time For Yourself. Then there’s Do Something Important which is a real classic mixtape kinda project.


RNGLDR: So combined, you’re talking 20-ish tracks? That’s a ton of music to be working on.


THE BLACKSON: Exactly, but we’re almost there. It’s a sentence, and I’m finishing that sentence right now. That’s how I want to tell the story. Everything is connected. There’s a whole lotta continuity going on. My first part of the sentence was BlackSon Rising way back when. Then it was Fresh Air. And now with Do Something Important, we’re getting to the meat of it, and the songs sound like it.



RNGLDR: We’re excited to hear it.


THE BLACKSON: I can’t wait for y’all to hear it. It’s definitely my best work. That’s what we hoping it turn into. Cooler and better every step of the way.


RNGLDR: That’s the journey. Evolution.


THE BLACKSON: That’s that DSI talk right there. One of my homies - homegirls I should say - told me that I have that superpower to know what to do next, so I wrote that on my mirror. “It’s a blessing to know what to do next.” We’ve been working on this since before we even came out to Denver, you know what I’m saying? Just chipping away at it.


RNGLDR: Good things take a long time.


THE BLACKSON: You’re so writerly man - like as a poet - so I can’t wait for you to hear it and see what you pick up on.


RNGLDR: The emphasis on lyricism and the amount of effort that goes into poeticism in your music is so obvious, and we’ve always recognized and appreciated that.


THE BLACKSON: Yeah, that’s the whole thing. We want to capitalize on the fact that I come from poetry. Even when we were writing the project, I put on the mood board, “this is an ode to hip-hop.” That boom-bap, those samples and how they make people feel, we had to capture that, while also identifying the sound that we do down here in Nashville very well, with that jazz infusion.



RNGLDR: You always gotta grow from the roots.


THE BLACKSON: Exactly. But it’s also gotta Slap. It’s gotta knock at the same time. We need that.


RNGLDR: It can’t all be jazz and poetry. Something’s gotta hit. Something’s gotta shake the trunk. Subwoofers rattling.


THE BLACKSON: Rattling! You hear me?


RNGLDR: We were skipping tracks in the car earlier, because something about being sown here - down South - we just need that bass.


THE BLACKSON: Need some thump! I’ve even experimented a little bit with like AfroBeat and that feel-good aesthetic. It’s little bit of everything that really makes something work - that’s what that whole initiative was about. I just wanna do what feels right, and it’s working out. Even looking at the data, I’m tracking more than I ever have - more than we ever have - my shit is just growing.


RNGLDR: It’s organic. I think that, deep down, people really do give a fuck about what people really gave a fuck to make. You have to tap into the right space for that to actually work, and that shit takes a long time, but once you’re there, you’re there.


THE BLACKSON: That’s so deep. You can hear it.


RNGLDR: And you can hear when they don’t give a fuck too.



THE BLACKSON: I’ve been cutting up merch - I was doing all the shirts myself before the exhibit and shit - and one night, I was like, “I’m figuring this out tonight.” I stayed up. It was like 8:30 at night, and then all of the sudden it was 8:30 the next morning and I still hadn’t made a single shirt. I was breaking. I called my mom. I sounded manic. Did I bite off more than I could chew? I was trying so hard. And she said, “I’m on the way.”


By the time she got there, I’m in tears - literally crying. But she said, 


“I understand where you are right now. I respect it. But I need you to understand that this is happening because you care. Everything you want to do has a cost of entry. This is just that cost of entry. You chose to take the whole bite tonight, so you’re here, but you were going to get here anyway. It takes this.”


RNGLDR: That’s some mom intellect.


THE BLACKSON: Exactly. And now I understand it. Every time I’m trying to do more, some of these steps are all about that cost of entry. Just showing up sometimes turns into totally footing the bill or whatever. But there’s always a cost of entry for anywhere you’re trying to get. It put the battery in my pack for the end of the run.


RNGLDR: But now you can see the light at the end of the tunnel?


THE BLACKSON: Man, I have not enjoyed the holidays since I’ve started this whole process. This year, I’m enjoying the holidays. I’m gonna be done with it. I’m gonna get my girl some nice shit for Christmas. And I’m literally not that type of person - but this year, it’s just shit to celebrate.


RNGLDR: You’ve gotta take care of yourself to be the best version of yourself sometimes.



THE BLACKSON: You become the seed. I’m trying to bury myself under information - understanding. I’ve got a line: I’m well-studied for the times where I’m misunderstood. I’ve spent the time, I’m creating the art - you feel me? Creating creation. I’m a little nervous though.


RNGLDR: You should be. That’s good. It can help you focus in and get motivated if you know how to use it.


THE BLACKSON: Transmute it. And, honestly, a lot of this iteration of my career is that, where it’s like I would write poems, so I would write raps because it was a fun exercise. But lately, it’s more and less therapeutic at the same time, where I would be going for these profound thoughts with each poem and each bar. And nowadays it’s more just applying the things I’ve learned overtime to create something that speaks.


RNGLDR: Cohesive art - like what you’re working on between the short film, the tape, the branding, and the show - is something truly difficult to create, but especially important these days. To be able to tap into multiple mediums with one story is an an incredible amount of work, but if you can speak to someone through sound, visuals, touch, and emotion all at once, people understand it. And it’s hard to make people understand things - or at least pay attention long enough ti understand things - these days. You have to tackle multiple things at once in order for a story to make sense to everyone.



THE BLACKSON: In the past, I used to want to maintain a moment’s energy. Nowadays, I’m understanding what a hook means. I’m understanding what leaving something with someone for a while means. And this continuity thing - we miss things because of the scroll - we’re trying to make sure we’re getting in front of people. I put that in my think tank. I want tot tell this story, and do it over time, and talk to my generation. But to do all of that, you’ve gotta leave breadcrumbs. Something like a post might not do as well as others, but you need it to tell a larger story. If you leave them those breadcrumbs, people today are going to be able to make it all the way back home safely. And while we’re placing these, we’ve got time to build the houseware leading them towards. A lot of what we’ve done towards Do Something Important have been breadcrumbs. Draw it out, and it’s working. The compound effect.


RNGLDR: Thinking big picture.


THE BLACKSON: I’m reading Good to Great, and in there they talk about the way of the groundhog. The groundhog has one purpose, and we’re gonna do this one thing to be experts this one way. And that’s a part of the study of what makes a good company a great company. They double down on what they did really well. And that’s why I’m focused on what makes people move and think. It feels good.



RNGLDR: Still teaching?


THE BLACKSON: Yeah.


RNGLDR: Love it?


THE BLACKSON: Yeah. Well, love it is an interesting word because it’s a whole new generation because I’m at the end of the Millennials, and this is Gen-Z. I get how our teachers were probably feeling where there’s an inevitable disconnect. Where Millennials were coming off of tradition and needed to see more, Gen-Z is like fuck it - if you can’t prove it and you don’t have a following, then what are you doing? They’re moving in every way based on metrics. So yeah, I love it when it’s just me and the black sons because we can just talk. I’m teaching in the same neighborhood I grew up so I know exactly what they’re going through.


RNGLDR: That’s a beautiful circle in and of itself.


THE BLACKSON: The other day I got into it with one of my favorite students. He was having a down day and snapped on everybody. And I’m everybody’s last line of defense when it comes to dealing with a young black boy. He kept saying, “you don’t feel me.” And it came down to me having to walk him to the house where I grew up. “I grew up right here.”

After a while longer of chopping it up about wine, different cities that the Café Noir tour has hit so far, and who the Atlanta Hawks need to take in the draft, the band started playing, and Flwr Chyld and Grimm Lynn rushed upstairs to perform.


If you want to check out the photos from that performance, head to our gallery from their Denver show, here:





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