Take a deep breath. Allow it to fill your chest all the way down to your belly and then let your whole body relax as you exhale. This is a widely known practice for calming the nervous system, coming into center, and clearing the mind. Since the world is filled with so much uncertainty, political divisiveness, fear, and justified anger, practicing inner resilience is very empowering. Art and music have always been influential in shaping the cultural trends during times of social upheaval while conveying important messages. “I Can Breathe” is a musical anthem that speaks to the many intense feelings that people are experiencing right now while reminding us that the soul of the movement is and always has been love.
“This song was sparked from a conversation with my friend Kiyoshi about our past trauma from racism we’ve experienced in our lives and became a way to participate in our own healing around the subject. As the world felt the tension of a society in peril, we transmuted the pain it triggered in us and created something beautiful for people to vibe to.” -J Brave
J Brave, founder of the internationally renowned Hip Hop collective, the Luminaries, reached out to fellow artist Kiyoshi on this project. Kyoshi, a transformational rap coach and performer, specializes in using poetry (flowetry) as a tool for personal development and expression. The two stand out in a crowd of artists for their educational, uplifting, and conscious application of Hip Hop Music. DJ Taz Rashid completes the musical trio by adding his unique beats that punctuate the profound message that the song champions.
“It’s interesting that one of the main symptoms of the coronavirus is: Shortness of BREATH. And keeping this in mind, note that people have been on their knees with MASKS on, chanting “I CAN’T BREATHE” and telling everyone to “BLACK OUT” on Tuesday. It’s like a collective spell cast to keep the masses in servitude to death, giving up one’s freedom. I say let’s breathe LIFE back into our words & actions by remaining mindful of our verbiage and what we do.” -Kyoshi
Social movements are dynamic, always adapting to the changing times. The Civil Rights Movement in America is one steeped in deep courage, dignity, and love. It was the ability to win over public sentiment that made figures like Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks such powerful voices in those days. Today, with decades of politicians dragging their feet on police reform and a for-profit criminal justice system that targets people of color, tensions are running high.
“I Can Breathe” helps to diffuse the intense divisiveness that is suffocating efforts to bring people together in solidarity to address the failings of our corrupt 2-party system. The song starts with the lyrics, “The change has come and we’re no longer choosing sides.” The divide and conquer tactics practiced by corporate media and politicians will cease to have power if the people choose to no longer indulge it. This simple wisdom gets lost when we are caught up in anger, or become reactionary.
“J Brave texted me one day asking if there is a track he could rap over since he was going to the studio later that week. I sent him a beat and a few days later all the marches and riots took place following the George Floyd murder. J Brave and Kiyoshi made magic over my beat , sent me the vocal and I finished mixing/producing and boom , the track was done in a few days. I love spontaneous collaboration like this especially with a great message” -DJ Taz Rashid
When we step back to take a breath we empower ourselves. When we breathe together we elevate our consciousness and allow our higher reasoning to guide us. Social change is not a game of checkers. This is about playing chess which requires mindfulness, resilience, presence, and a measured approach. Our civil rights heroes of the past knew and practiced this. Now it is our turn to do the same.
Great artists are always here to remind us of this timeless wisdom. A love of justice, a love for our communities, and a love for our planet is the fuel that powers this movement while winning public sentiment. Politicians and corporate media have many incentives to sour this love by demonizing “the other side”, pouring gas on the flames of division, and escalating tensions. Sadly people fall for these divide and conquer tactics too easily if they don’t cultivate the capacity to witness, center, and de-escalate.
It starts with a deep breath. These artists have put together a beautiful musical expression that calls us back to our roots. Take some time to listen and understand where your “enemy” is coming from. Instead of shouting louder, improve your argument and seek the humanity in those who have opposing views as you.
The video, produced by Megan at Pogoda Visuals, combines a mixture of classic civil rights footage with contemporary scenes that bring the movement together across generations and decades. We are reminded of the strength and dignity of people like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Dalai Lama. All have faced terrible violence and oppression to emerge with a message of love and unity.
You can stream the song here. Since this is an independent and grassroots release, sharing the Facebook Video and this article will be greatly appreciated by the artists. Let us breathe together and not be distracted or divided as we keep our eyes on the prize moving forward. Create something beautiful and offer it to your community, that’s what we are doing. Together we will lift each other up as we create the better future that our hearts desire.