ON JULY 25, 2016 I DECIDED (IF YOU CAN CALL IT THAT) TO FIND THE HEAVIEST BOULDER I COULD MANAGE, AND LUG IT AROUND LOS ANGELES.
I did it to send a message about social pain to anyone who might see. some people called it activism. some called it art. I call it necessary. I'm on a mission to use my gifts to convince people of their power to create the world that ought to be.
My dad is partly to blame for my behavior: a Jamaican born activist and reggae musician who reared me on a steady diet of Bob Marley's music and surprise lectures on people power. He inspired me to start writing my own songs. My grandma is partly to blame too: for taking me to church, where I learned to play the piano, cut my teeth on singing in front of people, and heard about this guy who turned over tables when he saw the poor being taken advantage of. In hindsight, it's no surprise that my first original song was called "oppression" and told the story of black people from the time they were shipped to America from Africa to the present day. It was a long song. I was 12 when I wrote it. I've been trying to say something meaningful ever since.
After college, I left my hometown Atlanta for New York City to pursue becoming an iconic songwriter, like Bob Marley. I found a job at a historic church--preaching and singing--while moonlighting on the local R&B scene. I fell into the company of legends Ashford & Simpson who took me under their wing and hired me to do the work that would lead to an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Performers (ASCAP) Foundation.
I left New York for Los Angeles to pursue a degree in religion from Fuller Seminary, putting music on the backburner. While earning my master's degree, I felt provoked by the stories of police brutality that filled the news. I needed to do something, and leaned on my gifts and experiences, my heritage and faith, to convey the pain of many black americans and to encourage people to act toward changing the oppressive conditions that we call "normal" in American society. I decided to sing, and preach, and write, and organize, and to perform, to deliver uncomfortable truths and invitations for change. A lot people were not happy with me for doing and saying the things i did--especially Christians. Pulling a stone was just the beginning, but the whole of the story can't be told here.
I can sum up what I want to say to the world in one sentence: It doesn't have to be this way. I've been producing new music--honest electronic anthems with reggae & rock influences--to convey that message. I've written a book to say the same. I'm speaking at universities, art events, and any place that will have me to say it again. I hope to be a part of some type of truth and reconciliation commission in America, so that we can be entirely done with our traditions of racial injustice, and live into the beautiful language we use to describe our experiment of a society: that we hold these truths to be self-evident that all people are created equal. Until then, I carry the stone.