Andre “Add-2” Daniels may be the one MC that you haven’t heard much of but needs to be in your heavy rotation, as he is as soulful, honest and lyrical about his people as you can get. His newest project, Jim Crow: The Musical, sits in so many sections of black angst, glory and indifference until you come out of the listening experience feeling more knowledgable and closer to the black experience from the ground level.
When the album dropped late last year, I reached out to Add-2 (a youth mentor who heads up Haven Studios for kids, as well as a rap teacher for Common’s youth organization Commonground and YoungChicago Authors) and stated how much I enjoyed the rhythms and the rhymes and the depths of which he told the black story from a 360 degree view. “Thank you! I put a lot of thought and intent behind how to best tell the story, but still make it a good album,” he replied. “It’s been so much good feedback. I couldn’t let the decade close out without someone saying what it felt like to be black in [these times].”
So matching up the visuals to such deep commentary on the journey of black folks would seem easy. Just go to the hood and roll the cameras, but to give it an art of cool and a tint of classic, Add called on director Cam Be and they used inspiration from the great photographers of yesteryear in Gordon Parks, Roy DeCarava and Moneta Sleet Jr. Add says, “We wanted to pay homage to them and Spike Lee and others who captured black life so beautifully. But I also wanted to give us a reason to smile…to feel good about something in the midst of all the hurt that’s going on.”
Watch the video above, but also be inspired by the true soul of it. The longer than usual visual moments, the smiles, the signs…and most importantly, the message.