Sons Of Kemet are a British jazz group that sprinkles elements of rock, Caribbean folk, and Afrobeat into their music. The quartet comprises bandleader Shabaka Hutchings (saxophone and clarinet), Theon Cross (tuba) and two drummers, Eddie Hick and Tom Skinner. "Black" is the closing track from their fourth album, Black to the Future.
Anglo-Nigerian poet Joshua Idehen voices the song. His pointed monologue is a plea for black people to be safe to walk the streets and not killed because of their skin color.
You already have the world, just leave black be
Leave us alone!
Idehen's last words, "leave us alone," are uncompromising. Mojo magazine asked Shabaka Hutchings what they mean to him. "I take it to mean 'leave black culture alone,' or leave Africa and cultural knowledge to develop on its own terms, without the gaze or interpretation of external forces," he replied. "Leave black people to develop without the fear of being harassed."
Sons of Kemet released Black to the Future to widespread acclaim from critics. It was their first album to chart in the UK, reaching #54, and also entered the album charts in other European countries, including Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.
Hutchings created Sons of Kemet's unconventional lineup because he wanted to play with a pair of drummers. "In some ways it was split between a desire to play with the two individuals and also a desire to take away the function of the drums as being the thing that provides the rhythm," he said. "When you've got two drummers they converse with each other. It takes the onus off any one particular drummer to provide the beat, because there's going to be a forward momentum just from them expressing together."