B. Excellent Interview
Q: Your first single off of your upcoming mixtape, Parrhesia, has just been released to the masses. What came first with the production of “B. Excellent”, the beat or the lyrics?
A: So I actually wrote the lyrics to B. Excellent years ago. I wrote it to a beat that I was listening to online. It was a really mellow, smooth and jazzy instrumental. And I actually recorded a version of the song on that instrumental. It was alright but it wasn’t what I wanted the song to be. So I never put it out. But later I started working with this young producer from cuba who played me the beat that the song is currently on. I knew immediately when I heard the instrumental that I had to have a song for it.
Q: Who made the beat for “B. Excellent”?
A: His name is Miguel Chapman. I met him in Madison, Wisconsin. He actually goes by the producer name Mamby which is connected to a cuban rebellion that his ancestors were apart of. When we first linked we vibed, I learned about his perspective and I definitely rocked with his beats. Shortly after I showed him the beat that I was using for B. Excellent and asked him if he could make something better for a song idea. He didn’t even know what the song was at first but he for sure came back with some fire.
Q: You just released the music video of “B. Excellent.” How did you link up with the director of the music video?
A: She’s actually my best friend from high school and for as long as I’ve known Tatiana Barber she has always been excellent in her execution as a dancer and artist. So, when I started taking music seriously, as something I wanted to present to people, I always knew I wanted to work with her on a video. It was only a matter of timing and song selection. Once I sent her the song B. Excellent we started making plans for the shoot.
Q: The music video is beautifully crafted in New York City of all cities. Tell the story of how the music video came to life?
A: So, Tati actually lives in New York City now. So it only made sense. I had an idea of some specific locations, some of the types of places I wanted to shoot at and some of the types of shots I wanted to see as well as the look I wanted to shoot for. And because Tatiana knows the area she was able to take us exactly where we needed to go. We had Tati’s friend Alex Karpenko on point with the camera work certainly hitting every angle we needed. We incorporated a mix of choreographed and freestyle dances in different locations that worked best for each specific dancing scene and we centered certain rap scenes in the choreography. Ultimately it was about 5 to 7 hours of high energy and collective creativity.
Q: Who were the dancers and hype-man in the video? Can you give a little bit of history of your connection with these individuals?
A: The dancers were friends of Tatiana, Sloan Pearson and Marley Lubin. She had worked with them before and developed a relationship with them and wanted to bring them into the project. It was a pleasure meeting them and working with them. They both live in New York. The hype-man was the good brother Tyriek Mack. We met in undergrad, joined a lot of the same organizations and actually did a lot of rabble-rousing together.
Q: Can you let the readers in to define the ‘B’ in “B. Excellent?”
A: The B is for Black, but it is a play on words.
Q: For the sake of Black History Month, would you take the time to educate the readers on the background and purpose for each photo used in the music video?
A: For me they correlated with the lyrics. I talk about liberty and democracy with the image of Nelson Mandela because he actually had to fight for freedom and ws monumental in the establishment of democracy in South Africa. I talk about wanting to believe in a better society with the image of Bernie Sanders because unlike what we have seen in U.S. national politics, his agenda is based in radical change and not in maintaining the status quo that was built through white supremacy. To me the panthers have always been a symbol of black power and resistance. If you know the story of Eric Thomas you know how education and hard work was his ticket out of homelessnes and poverty. The image of Bryan Stevenson is used because he is a man whose life’s work is liberating wrongfully convicted death row inmates. I would say listen to the words that are being said with each picture as it comes up.
Q: The lyrics are a very powerful and positive message for your community. Why was it essential for you to bring light to such a positive message in “B. Excellent?”
A: I always want to speak truth to power or give the listener something to think about or reflect on. I hope the words I say can be motivational and lift people’s spirits. I once heard a wise woman say music is supposed to inspire.
Q: What’s next for K. Sankofa?
A: More visuals coming 2020. Major announcements, coming soon. Big drops, coming soon. The plan is to keep releasing content and to stay tapped in to the community. Look out for Rebel Vision. Look out for Parrhesia.
Celebrate Black History Month today. B. Excellent be everyday. Music by Miguel “Mamby” Chapman: IG @rebel_mamby Homie Feature Tyriek “Big Shot Bob” Mack: IG @bob_da_bildr
Interview By: Heather Marie Gautsch