Since 2014’s “The Hood Ain’t the Same,” a song that lamented the unheeded gentrification of the Central District, Draze has been the most strident musical voice of Seattle’s marginalized citizens. Last year, “Irony on 23rd” focused attention on a specific corner in that vibrant, embattled neighborhood, a corner where Black dealers were once arrested for selling dime bags and now white-owned Uncle Ike’s pot shop is raking in legal millions. The song crystallized the general sentiment of the Black community and became a rallying cry for activists.
“Ain’t Nobody Talking About No Real Shit” is Draze’s most impassioned and eloquent appeal yet. The title, inspired by an interview between D’Angelo and Black Panther Bobby Seale, is just the start. From there Draze sets in motion a song—a mission statement, really—that indicts every one of us in the ongoing deadlock that is America’s relationship to race. Progressives, conservatives, artists, politicians, men, women, Black, white, even himself: In their own ways, everyone is guilty of overlooking the basic truths about our current situation. Draze doesn’t cast blame; he understands that we’re only human. Instead he simply calls for less hypocrisy and more responsibility. There’s so much damn chatter clogging the airwaves and distorting our sense of empathy. Let’s elevate the conversastion.
The video, directed by Draze himself, further intensifies the message. A-day-in-the-life footage is intercut with razor-sharp images that range from of-the-moment police-cam videos to classic scenes of activism and oppression, demonstrating just how awful things are for a certain segment of the American population—and just how little has changed in the last 50 years. As tragic as it is, not all hope is lost: Music can help. Paul Stoot Jr., a young drummer from Seattle, plays out the video with a wickedly funky solo. At least the struggle gets a killer soundtrack.
I’ve watched this video over and over since I first got it and I couldn’t be prouder to premiere it on City Arts today. (It’s available for free download here.) And stay tuned for more from Draze tomorrow when we debut our annual Interview Issue.