Thursday, May 27, 2010

Follow The "Leaders"

By Scott Tre

There are always those who stand out from the pack. Those who distinguish themselves with confidence and swagger. Those who inspire us with their actions and their words. Individuals like that are more rare than the most flawless diamond. That is why we sing their praises and build monuments to them when they make themselves known. By allowing their light to shine brightly, they inspire the best in all of us. That kind of inspiration is what keeps us progressing as a species.

Nas and Damian Marley offer up an intoxicating meditation on just what attracts us to those types on the their song "Leaders", featuring Stephen Marley. It's my absolute favorite song off of their new collaborative LP Distant Relatives. The song is a concentrated dose of everything that makes them both exceptional artists.

Acoustic guitars and a sharp, Reggae influenced bassline roll along as smooth as a summer breeze. The hook itself sounds like a tribute to the rising sun. Nas offers his usual abstract gems that combine images of black criminality and black consciousness. Elsworth "Bumpy" Johnson is elevated to the same category as more prominent and legitimate black leaders. While such comparisons may be off putting to some, the point rings load and clear. Bumpy was a leader of men. He captured the imaginations and hearts of those around him. That's what this song is about.

Damian Marley's soft Reggae crooning taps directly into our collective subconscious, giving voice to the child in all of us that yearns to be somebody. He simultaneously exposes the inherent danger in blind hero worship and shows why "hero" types are so essential to the development of children:

Who do I follow?
Who do I copy?
Look in to the mirror
and it’s you I see look at me
everything new, like it fresh from the factory
everything you do, it impact me
your lifestyle attract me, parents try distract me
when I grow up, I want to be like you exactly.

It is not merely a love poem to larger than life icons, but a musical extension of our collective admiration for those who possess that magic "It" factor. As the Green Goblin once said to Spider-man, the "exceptional" people. This world would be all the more bland and aimless without them. So click pause on the player to the right and then click play on the Youtube clip below to become inspired. Appreciate your "leaders".

1 comment:

  1. got to love a writer who can quote the Green effin Goblin and make it appropriate to the topic at hand.

    good song, decent message, and this is coming from a non Nas fan.