JaRon Marshall’s “The Black Power Tape” Is A Soulful Remedy [Premiere]

JaRon Marshall explores feelings of rage, power, pride, and, ultimately, peace, throughout the project’s four tracks.

It’s easy to fall into the head-bobbing funk of “Last June,” the track that kicks off JaRon Marshall‘s The Black Power Tape. Then, the soulful croon of vocalist James Robinson comes in, uttering the names of people we’ve heard all year.

“Now Ahmaud is gone / George is gone / Breonna is gone / They never coming back home,” Robinson croons.

It’s a moment that encapsulates what Marshall’s project — which Okayplayer is premiering before its official release on Friday (September 25) — is about: exploring the myriad of emotions that come with being Black in America, all against a backdrop of soothing, soulful music.

In an email, Marshall — who, along with his solo work, also serves as the keyboardist for Austin, TX-based band Black Pumas — described the EP as “an introspective take on the external pain felt by my fellow Black Americans and our allies around the country and the world,” that “explores feelings of rage, power, pride, and ultimately, peace,” throughout its four acts. He made the project while in quarantine.

Where instrumental songs like “Power” and “The Beginning of the End” double as meditative musings and homages to the late J Dilla and Chris Dave, “Last June” and “FORWHTITSWRTH” are driven by their lyrics, the latter serving as an encouraging and uplifting foil to the former.

“After the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, “FORWHTITSWRTH” was the first thing I wrote, sort of like a word of encouragement for me and my people, considering that I knew the world would start to debate about our value again,” Marshall said. “In spite of what others may think, I know where I stand. After I wrote the lyrics I sent it over to James to finish.”

Alongside The Black Power Tape‘s release, Marshall will also be putting on a livestream performance on Sunday (September 27). Details for that performance can be viewed below. Marshall can be found on Instagram here.

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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Elijah C. Watson

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