St. Louis Rapper MBz Live's Song On Police Violence Speaks To Generations Of Anguish
When St. Louis Rapper MBz Live’s music video for his song “Let Us Go” was released earlier this summer, it included imagery and lyrics depicting the outrage people felt after police killed George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
The 25-year-old south St. Louis rapper, whose given name is Mikal Bolden, has released party anthems and hype music since 2012, but his new track, accompanied by a music video from St. Louis Video Artist Louis Quatorze, marks a completely different tone.
St. Louis Public Radio’s Chad Davis talked to MBz Live about new music, family and what made him write the song before this turbulent summer.
Chad Davis: Let's talk about “Let Us Go”; the video came out two months ago. Tell me a little bit about that track. You know, when did you even record the song, and what inspired you to record that?
MBz Live: I wrote that song I want to say two years prior to the George Floyd incident. You know how easy it is to see simple police brutality on an Instagram video. I want to say it had to do with the guidance counselor who was walking one of his mental patients and ended up getting shot by a police officer.
It just really had me really hot, and I was already in the studio. I just really found the beat, and I just really unloaded on what I feel like is my version of what my people are seeing today.
Davis: So this song was recorded a couple years before George Floyd was killed, and it definitely resonates now. How did the concept of the video come up, and could you kind of describe the video a little bit?
MBz: I literally was just listening to the song, I'm on Twitter, and it’s like 4 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and I'm listening to the song, bro. And I just got a bunch of my songs from like years ago, and it’s in one big folder and I might just shuffle and this came on. It just so happened that all the George Floyd stuff was going on. I see Mike (Louis Quatorze). He's like, "bro, if anybody’s doing something positive about what’s going on, let's do it." Me and Mike were already supposed to work from prior, we already got a relationship, so I just hit him up like “bro let's do that, I feel like that would be cool for me and you, let's just give them a message real quick.” He hit me back and said, “send me the song; let's see what we got.” I sent him the song and he’s like, “bro, this is it.”
We really just wanted to show the growth of the young Black man in America, how the chains grew. So it went from rope to chains to foot on neck. So we want to go from the slavery rope to the mass incarceration chains to now.
Davis: Is “Let Us Go” going to be on the new album?
MBz: Nah, “Let Us Go” was just simply something that was just for the time. I really just wanted to just give a message out to my fans, my supporters, and let them know that like, you know, we got some work to do. As far as the people that ain't informed about what's going on in our community. ... So I just wanted to just make my voice be heard while also amplifying other voices as much as I possibly can or amplify other messages and other situations that should be seen as much as I can. But “Let Us Go” won't be on the album. I definitely love that song and it’s definitely one of the jewels out of the vault. But I definitely have some major music coming as far as September.
Davis: How did you start rapping? And when did you start rapping?
MBz: It started at like a real early age from just growing my passion from my sister having a keyboard. She would just be playing like her little tunes, and I had a passion for music and would watch the old Temptation movies.
Davis: What is this new music that you're working on like?
MBz: This new music is real deal like me taking in just like everything that I learned everything that I've, you know, been through. I just recently had a baby five months ago. So I'm really in a whole new mindset of how I need to be approaching life and how I need to be moving forward as a man and a father, in this world, especially a Black father in this world, so being in it comes with more responsibility.
Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis