Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show Host Kevin Cole, is “Yah Have Mercy” by D.Black from his latest album Ali’yah available on Sportn’Life/MYX Records.
At 22, today’s artist belies his youth and shrugs off stereotypes with ease. In addition to leading a small ministry that explores the Hebrew roots of Christianity, local hip hop artist D.Black (born Damian Black) is an up-and-coming producer and emcee in Seattle’s tight-knit hip hop community, where he rubs elbows with the likes of Jake One, Vitamin D, and labelmates Fatal Lucciauno and Spaceman. His roots go back — his parents and uncle were pioneers of Seattle rap in 70’s having been the groups The Emerald City Boys and The Emerald City Girls — but D.Black made his own way and earned partial ownership in his label, Sportn’Life, which is partnered with Bay Area label MYX Records. The Cause & Effect, D.Black’s 2006 debut, came out when he was just 18 and was met with much acclaim but never made it much outside the Northwest. With his strong sophomore release, produced by Jake One, who first featured D.Black on “God Like” from his own release White Van Music, and by D.Black’s mentor and Seattle hip hop veteran Vitamin D, D.Black is now ready to take the national stage.
Like much of the hip hop coming from our city, D.Black’s music is soulful and socially conscious, but on the new album he takes it a step further and incorporates his strong spirituality into the mix which is a driving force in his life. The album title Ali’Yah is Hebrew for “ascend”. His religious beliefs and the predominantly violent and flashy hip hop culture he finds himself in are constantly at odds and the contradiction is often reflected in his lyrics. “Yah Have Mercy” is a diatribe on violence he’s experienced and the youth culture that is hell bent on imitating what they see in much of hip hop culture today. He writes: “Yah please have mercy on me. It’s hard to overcome everything I see.”
D.Black has few performances scheduled in support of this album, but he does have a showcase at CMJ on October 24th at The Suffolk. Keep an eye on his MySpace page for future dates. For now, here’s a video for two songs, “Bring It Back” featuring Grynch and “Yesterday”: