blackie: a story by roy kinsey

at my grandmothers funeral, the matriarch of our small family, who helped my mother and others in rearing and raising me, i didn’t leave my seat to say anything. rather, i couldn’t leave my seat to say anything. my world was rocked. i hadn’t known a world where her warmth, her sweetness had not existed.

when my cousin was murdered, i drove to the church where his body lie, walking past hysterical brothers and his broken hearted mother, and stood in the open doors, never approaching the casket. i did not have the courage to view him in what had become his new present, physical state. we’d grown up together. this was too soon, too surprising, too eerie. i left when the service began.

there were those accosted. intimidated. impeded upon. imprisoned. there were those cut down by police officers gone scared, gone rogue, racists gone mad, or brethren who’d grown unrecognizable.

then there was me. mere degrees away. separated only by time, by story, by day. me, a shell of a self i’d once known that had too, grown unfamiliar. a witness to their lives. attempting to make a transition into the next stage of my own life, battling parts of myself that could no longer live if i truly wanted to. the things of youth; innocence, vitality, life, waning. battles with self esteem, substance, and trauma inherited from my family, dancing with trauma of my own. murders of unarmed black folk on corporate loop. on nbc and fox. twitter, instagram, and facebook. people suffering from illness of the spirit, soul and mind. people dying from addiction in plain sight.

it was then that i embarked on telling the story of blackie. the story of a kid teased for being called “too black,” but quickly soothed by parents that said, “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” a black, gay, boy who would dare to look our toxically masculine society, and hip-hop culture in the face, saying, i too have a story to tell. the continued story being the product of parents born in the sixties, and grandparents who participated in the great migration. blackie was me pulling pieces together. connecting. forming conclusions that somehow had not add up.

i created blackie to eulogize my grandmother. to pay respects to my cousin. locating a voice, and eyes, to learn my story, realizing that if i was to have the audacity, or courage to survive my loved ones deaths, creativity and healing, for me, would be non-negotiable.

i’ve heard that there is no bright side to losing a life. i’ve experienced a deeper appreciation for life in understanding that there will be a time, where those we cherish, will no longer be with us. communication will one day cease. symbolized by the heart and the plus sign, i chose the logo that represents blackie to emphasize the transition from merely surviving to thriving. in understanding that if you are here, there is an intelligence that is universal, that wanted it so. i wanted to share that understanding.

blackie is an attempt in healing. by investigation, and experience. blackie is a line of questioning. a self examination. a posing of the question, why do i not feel at home in my own home? in my body. in my city. in my country. a questioning, why does this not feel like a good life? a good life was the bargain, and i thought i held my end up. what can i do to make it one?

blackie is an attempt to heal my inner child. to invite him out from hiding. to assure him that the life molded + nurtured by those who’d come before him, is one of aspiration, of richness and wealth. to congratulate him on reaching his first saturn return. to assure him that we have gotten stronger, by conquering 100 percent of the obstacles presented us thus far, and are just maybe strong enough to envision a life of gratitude, individuality, creation, abundance and wellness.

blackie is a journey inward, after being dissatisfied, hurt, and wounded by what i’d witnessed on the outside. blackie is a hope in changing both. the inner and outer. perception, and reality. knowing that true transformation takes effort. The life blackie and I  have envisioned, is not a passive undertaking. blackie is my own alchemical process. the extraction of love, wisdom, healing and art. the bringing of light where there was none. it was making an assessment, “when i reach my grandmother’s age, what kind of life will i want to have lived?” “was i able to face and heal the symptoms of life, promised to come?” “will i be able to do it with information, with style, with love, with grace?”

blackie is eulogy. reference. an invoice. a call to repair. reflection & jubilee.

blackie: acknowledgements

blackie is not only an album, but a journey i took to acknowledge and understand my origin story. what making it has helped me realize is the importance of telling a story properly, and the importance in understanding our connection to others.

through time spent, and many conversations had, i got to build and know mike jones; a man who has become an influential piece in my creative life, but more importantly, a true friend. he produced more than half the records on the album, but was there day in and day out, trading stories and verses, sending me beats, and guiding the project that became “blackie” from its inception to its fruition. he linked me with rappers pete sayke, and stik figa, for the great aggin song, originally meant for pete’s, heaven can wait album. when they made a new version, he suggested we put the song on my album. important. mississippi mud, was the last song we recorded, but is an integral piece of the story. essential. if he did not make the beat himself, he introduced me to the work of new producers like ill brown and phoelix.

i’m blessed to have experienced such a collaborative effort, and a challenge that ended up growing me in a way that i needed if i was to step into the self i’d always seen for me. it was an honor to make something, so vital to who i am as a person, with a person who understands, and understood. the making of the blackie album, and making a friend while doing it, despite how anyone responds to the album, is truly the treasure of my life. it’s FNTSTC to have built a relationship that is motivating, affirming and hella productive. we really love making shit.  

it is because people like mike, erik wallace (who has only spoken life into anything pertaining to roy kinsey), anthony pabey (who was the first person to call me a chicago legend, and if i died tomorrow, i’ve heard myself referred to that manner. who always had bigger dreams for himself and our team, and is dedicated to us all having and living the highest visions for ourselves,) justin mitchell (who works more than he talks, but works with a love you can feel), along with family, friends, supporters, and listeners that we were able to make, and present this album. a very special thanks to nick castle, phoelix, ill brown, spoken thought, pete sayke, stik figa, and joshua torrez for helping me make my favorite thing.

dominik, amongst the stars that may flicker, you are the moon that light up my life. thank you for seeing me.