Naeem

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Songfacts®:

  • This song was originally titled "I Can Hear Crying," but Justin Vernon renamed it in honor of one of his I, I collaborators. Naeem Juwan Hanks is a rapper and producer who was popular in the 2000s under the name Spank Rock. He is listed as a co-writer on "U (Man Like)." Vernon explained to Uncut magazine:

    "He's been slept on but he's one of the most inspirational artists I know. It's this whole personhood thing, and the album title has to do with this concept of a self - and the relationship between that self and everybody else. All of my thoughts have been about community in the last few years."
  • "Naeem" was first performed in Washington, DC in December 2017. It was later used as the finale in Come Through, a collaboration between Bon Iver and the dance troupe TU Dance. The shows, which took place in the summer of 2018, featured a group of contemporary dancers during which several new Bon Iver songs were premiered. Vernon told Apple Music why he decided to include the track on I, I:

    "It just seemed very anthemic, and a very important part of whatever this record was going to be. It feels really nice to have a little bit more straightforward–not always bombastic, not always sonically trying to flip your lid or something."
  • The song features a string section arranged by Rob Moose. The violinist used to be a member of the Osso String Quartet and played on Sufjan Stevens' album, Illinois. He has also worked with Alabama Shakes and Joanna Newsom.
  • "Naeem" is accompanied by a music video directed by AG Rojas. The mystical clip marked Bon Iver's first official, non-lyrical visual since 2012's "Beth/Rest."
  • In 2019, this soundtracked the Nike commercial "Beginnings," where LeBron James dreams of a day when kids don't have to emerge from humble beginnings.

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