Canadian-based hip-hop artist A.Y.E. makes a bold statement in the latest video to his new single “BLACK”. This self-produced single features songstress Uyemi Oluwole and poet Maria Jose.
“”BLACK” more so than anything signifies Black beauty, Black strength, Black empowerment, Black resilience,” says A.Y.E..
The powerful message behind this single was inspired by the tragic and monumental death of George Floyd. Floyd was a 46-year-old African American man killed by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020. The aftermath spawned the largest civil rights movement in human history that is still currently active in several facets. One could argue, its emboldened other civil rights movements to have the courage to pursue direct issues.
Though according to A.Y.E., instead of expressing frustration and anger, his aim was to capture Black people in a positive light. “I feel like there’s always been a negative bubble around the word Black, and being Black,” he says. “I was trying to figure out a way to use my voice and my platform to speak up,” he continues.
Filmed entirely in black and white, A.Y.E.’s vision was to change the narrative defining Black beauty. This notion of positive representation within the Black community remained rooted in the concept of the video. A.Y.E. made sure to include active figures from Calgary’s Black community as stand-in models of the Black experience. Among the crowd of models, Oluwole sang through the chorus. She also graced the track with adlibs reminding listeners, “Black is Beautiful / And that’s a fact”.
Jose closed the single with a poem to further articulate the message being Black is positive. According to A.Y.E., his hope is people will digest this same message. “I hope people will appreciate their beauty and who they are whether you’re a POC or not.”
A.Y.E. isn’t just making contributions to the Black community through his music, but also through his clothing line Soul Food Merch Collection. On June 19, 2021, A.Y.E. will be releasing merchandise such as hoodies and t-shirts featuring empowering messages. The significance of this date falls on Juneteenth. In 1866, slaves in America were set free on this day. Portions of the sales from the Merch Collection will be donated to Black People United, a non-profit organization in Calgary focussing on helping POC.
When asked what else the artist is working on, A.Y.E. informed, “I don’t want to say too much because as an artist, things are always changing or evolving.” Though he also informed he has a few projects in the works, “So yes, you can definitely expect some more good music to feed the soul.”