In response to horrifying violence by and towards the police, Jamaican-born Atlanta-based tastemaker and DJ Genius shares #CauseMiBlack?, an expertly curated CD-length mix that addresses race relations in America and abroad. As the latest installment in Genius’ Slumchat mix series, #CauseMiBlack? eschews the series’ normal format of showcasing the best new Hip Hop tracks in favor of a more issue-driven and expansive approach. Featuring classic tracks from the likes of N.W.A. and KRS-One alongside more recent tracks from Kendrick Lamar and Big K.R.I.T., the mix is a powerful statement about how relations between African-Americans and the police have remained troubled since even before Hip Hop’s Golden Era. However, inclusions of tracks like Nas’ “If I Ruled The World” and Jay Z & Kanye West’s “Murder to Excellence” express hope and explore solutions that might end the racism endemic in American culture.
Named after Assassin’s impassioned chorus in Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker The Berry,” the title #CauseMiBlack? refers to Genius’ Jamaican heritage. “I identify as a Jamaican-American,” explains Genius. “But what’s interesting is that when people see you on the street, they don’t see your real identity, your real heritage. People on the street don’t see me as a Jamaican-American: I’m just simply seen and thus treated as ‘black.'”
Genius explains the theory behind the mix: “It’s a time machine from the 1970’s to today. The mix demonstrates that this issue is decades old and it’s not just an issue in this country but a worldwide epidemic, as proven by the Miriam Makeba track about Apartheid in South Africa. When I approached this mix, I was so careful when picking each song, It conveys how I feel when I look at the news and see what they’re doing to young black n*ggas. I have all these emotions. I had to switch from the normal mix to represent how I’m feeling about the current issues. Many of the tracks are angry, but I included a few tracks that pose a peaceful solution to racism. The flow of the mixtape mimics my reaction to the news. It starts off with massive artists that demonstrate how powerful black people can be, segues into songs that address police brutality, and finish with tracks that provide a road map for change.” GENIUS’ knack for knowing how to choose records and sequence them has been a driving force in his career and this expertly curated mix demonstrates that skill set.