Nearly 80 years later, Richard Wright’s seminal novel about the black experience in America is inspiring this generation of the young, gifted, and black to take up the mantle in entirely new genres. Music writer Olivia Deng explains in this excerpt from her WBUR Boston review of hip-hop band Camp Blood’s new album:
Combine succinct verses written from a place of anger, vents about racism, and minimal beats with influences from metal, punk and rap. Oh, and a love of Korn and Nine Inch Nails. That’s what fuels Camp Blood.
Through writing, their observations and reactions come out. When discussing racism, band member Haasan Barclay said that they want to get to the point where they discuss how it’s affecting them internally and how they’re processing it. There’s “1144,” a song with a hook written by Shaka Dendy about Southern racism he experienced growing up in Florida, calling out sundown towns. “I wrote the whole verse from the perspective of Bigger Thomas, who’s like the main character in this novel ‘Native Son.’ It’s a story that’s always resonated with me,” Dendy said. He added, “‘1144’ is almost like the final form of merging those things… It’s like the Korn guitars with trap hi hats with AP literature references. [The tracks] all are similar but gives you different impressions of what’s going on.”
This track contains explicit language and descriptions of violence. Listener discretion advised.
Read the full album review here and get your tickets to the original exploration of internalized racism: Richard Wright’s Native Son, in an exhilarating new stage adaptation by Nambi E. Kelley, September 11–29.