Hip-hop and soul artists sound off on social justice issues in new album “This Love Thing”
Buffalo, NY — Singer and activist Drea D’Nur along with Chicago activist and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Rami Nashashibi, Ph.D., have announced the release of a new album called, This Love Thing. The album explores timely social justice themes that come in the midst of multi-state protests against police involved in the shootings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and now Walter Wallace.
D’nur, known for producing conscious records and soulful concerts in her hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. and abroad, arranged the lead vocals while Nashashibi wrote lyrics and played guitar. The album, presented by Chicago’s community-based organization Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), features Grammy-nominated artist Maimouna Youssef (aka Mumu Fresh), hip-hop icon Brother Ali, and HBO Def Poetry Jam poet Amir Suleiman. The pandemic album was released late October on all music platforms.
“The writing on this album is absolutely prolific,” said Youssef. “Drea’s hauntingly soulful, passion-filled vocals dig deep inside of the heart using the chest cavity as an echo chamber to reverberate unspoken truths we hold in our skin… in the pits of our stomachs… in our ancestral memories. This album is a war cry and a love song. It is a testament of survival.”
“Mama Please, I Can’t Breathe. Get these demons off of me” are lyrics from the single “Mama Please” which echo the last words of George Floyd before his tragic death by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. This single is a national call for police reform. The accompanying music video is a dedication to former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne, a Black woman who was fired in 2008 for intervening when a white police officer put a handcuffed black man in a chokehold. The video sends a message to lawmakers to sign Cariol’s Law and start a national trend that would require police officers to intervene and stop imminent abuse performed by fellow law enforcement professionals. Songwriter and co-executive producer, Dr. Nashashibi is founding director of IMAN, a community organization in Chicago with a second branch in Atlanta. This Love Thing marks his public music debut as an artist.
“Drea and I are both passionate about our communities,” says Dr. Nashashibi. “We are the executive producers for this album, which we decided to create in the middle of a pandemic- a time when people were already experiencing such loss. Every artist who has worked with us on this album is deeply rooted in a spiritual and social commitment to racial/economic justice and healing. This record will drive emotions and force listeners to face an uncomfortable reality; and that’s good because we are all uncomfortable right now.”
Louisville, K.Y. Councilman-elect, Jecorey “1200” Arthur, is a hip-hop artist and activist who raps and directs the choir on the track “Mama Please,” while evoking the memory of Breonna Taylor who was killed earlier this year in his city. Since then, people have been protesting for months with plans to continue through the rest of the year. Within that time, Arthur became the youngest elected council member in Kentucky’s history.
“The world has seen Louisville protesting for months”, says Arthur. “But we’ve actually been protesting for centuries. ‘Mama Please’ itself is a protest, but we’re not just singing, we’re swinging, with laws. From Breonna’s Law to Cariol’s Law, and beyond. We define, demand, and determine political change.”
This Love Thing also features Ronnie Malley on Oud, Rootstock Republic on strings and Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ Sanctuary Choir, which adds powerful, moving, vocals on the album’s final track, “Better When”. Sound engineer Elijah Hooks, known for his work with artists Lil Wayne, T.I., A Boogie, Lil Baby, Griselda and Wale, co-produced the album.
D’Nur has committed to empowering and healing communities through music and action for over 20 years. Her sound is honest and derives from a collection of blues, gospel, and soul influences. She is a proud mother to five children in Buffalo, N.Y., where she runs a halal food pantry on the city’s west side to help feed her community.
“We have an opportunity to make a necessary change,” says D’Nur. This Love Thing is real, and it provides a space for people across the country to feel the hurt and grief caused by social injustice and police violence. This music is a national call to action that comprehensively addresses police reform.”
This Love Thing is available on all music platforms. You can hear and watch the official music video for “Mama Please” by Drea D’Nur and Rami Nashashibi ft. 1200 on YouTube. To learn more about the new album, visit Thislovething.com.
The Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) is a grassroots nonprofit organization incorporated in 1997. For over two decades the organization has worked to advance health, wellness, and healing in the inner city. Today, IMAN continues its work within the Chicago community and engages with other urban centers across the U.S. with a second chapter in Atlanta.
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