The BlackSon has a Simple Message for his Listeners: Do Something Important
Evan Dale // Oct 23, 2023
Free lunch is important. So are teachers. So are rappers. Advocating for — speaking for — one’s community is a gift and a privilege for those who have the opportunity to give back, and to strive forward. Just ask Isaiah Rashad, whose Free Lunch stood as one of the many standouts from his 2016 The Sun’s Tirade. Move up the map a little, along with the calendar, and ask The BlackSon - Nashville’s own hyper-lyrical, poetry-rooted, community-oriented rapper and teacher - what he’s working on now. Free Lunch is important. freelunchisimportant.com, as a matter of fact. Head to that address, and give a listen to a real rapper - a real person - giving clear, simple direction to those listening to do what matters most: Do Something Important.
It’s been a mantra of The BlackSon for a while now. In the build-up to his recent short film, Take Some Time For Yourself - entered in The International Black Film Festival, and that exists separately from the new project, albeit in the same socio-creative self-renaissance he’s been inhabiting all of 2023 - his ardent focus on making the most of one’s time is crystal clear. Growth only matters if it actually grows towards some kind of Sun. And for The BlackSon, with his space as a teacher, an artist, and the many grey areas of a human being that exist somewhere in between, everything he’s been doing has been in the effort to do something bigger and more broadly interconnected.
But, ‘everything you want to do has a cost of entry,’ as he told us en route to the expanded release of all his creative work this year. There have been growing pains, no doubt, from taking on so much creative breadth by himself. A film, a project, a line of accompanying, self-designed merch, all tying back to his existence as much more than a rapper, and whatever it is that title means these days. Instead, he’s The BlackSon, as he told us in 2020, ‘a reflection of what experiences [he] was speaking from based on the “light [he] wanted to shed.’
But thankfully, he hasn't had to bear it alone. At a low point, his mother told him, “I understand where you are right now. I respect it. But I need you to understand that this is happening because you care." At all points throughout the creation of the mixtape, Sejohfrogi and Malone - friends and producers behind the tape at large - helped guide the spirit of the project back towards The BlackSon's deeper emphases.
That light is ever-present with Do Something Important. As are his roots as a poet. Lyrically deep would be an understatement in any era of rap. But today, in a market largely oversaturated with not only a lack of lyrical prowess, but also a lack of legitimate community engagement, The BlackSon is an enigma fueled by friend, family, and creative collaborators around him, and his new mixtape — his first mixtape — is his most fiercely re-inventive work to date.
Some of that has to do with length. Though prolific, with a deep canon of singles and features that have cemented his sound as paramount and foundational to the larger Nashville scene, Do Something Important is his most complete delivery yet. And with all that space to roam, and the broad yet cohesive beatpack that Sejohfrogi and Malone pull into frame, his expansive creative freedom becomes even more obvious.
Without ever abandoning his profound poeticism, ‘it’s gotta knock at the same time.’ And rattle the trunk it does. From start to finish, Do Something Important is a dynamic exercise in balance between two bookending pillars: the ability to really write raps that tell a real story and relate to his community, and the ability to make it aesthetically worthy of its muddy Tennessee roots. If a listener wants to put on their noise-cancelling headphones and dial into the keyboard-clicking dynamism of The BlackSon’s lyrical might, that’s an available option at even the most anthemic points of the mixtape. If a listener wants to hop in the hooptie, turn up the subwoofers, and shake the neighborhood out of bed, the production achieves exactly that with a masterful balance between hard-hitting one-liners, a bravado-ridden delivery natural to the rapper’s register, and a modern beat pack eternally tethered to Southern hip-hop’s lineage. We could sit here and point to specific moments where all of that is in play, but it’s easier to just tell you to listen to the whole damn thing, because it’s a relentless exhibition of everything The BlackSon has to offer. And that’s a lot.
At How To Win, The BlackSon will make you feel like the sweepstakes is yours, with a nostalgic tether back towards 2000’s hip-hop, rooted as equally in uplifting messages of handling business, as it is in its explosion of chords and bass. With Good Vibrations, he provides a reason to contemplate deeply on the pursuit of self-growth, while still adhering to a deeply-layered, modernly composed beat. Everywhere a listener looks — listens — The BlackSon is putting forth a clinic of his nuances and grey areas, and most importantly, teaching us all something in the process: to always, and unrelentingly, Do Something Important.
Thank you, Mr. Sean.