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Salaam Remi recruits Black Thought, Stephen Marley, and more for “Is It Because I’m Black”

The song reimagines a 60’s classic for today’s times.

Black Thought and Salaam Remi
Black Thought and Salaam Remi
Getty Images/NBCUniversal/Andrew Lipovsky

This fall, legendary producer Salaam Remi will release his project titled Black On Purpose, which is said to feature appearances from Nas, Chronixx, Doug E Fresh, Jennifer Hudson, Teedra Moses, Busta Rhymes, Bilal, and more. Today, he gifts the world with a powerful cut from the forthcoming release titled “Is It Because I’m Black,” which features big assists from Black Thought, CeeLo Green, Anthony Hamilton, Stephen Marley, and Syleena Johnson. The track itself is a cover of Syl Johnson’s 1969 single of the same name — the blues/soul singer is also Syleena’s father.

Via press release, Salaam Remi spoke on recreating the original song for today’s times:

“I had only met Syleena [in] passing prior to this recording... But this moment would not be what it is for me having her strong vocal and energy continue the legacy of the brilliant and expressive depiction of the plight that Black America has experienced that her legendary father Syl brought to us all 51 years ago. I view this song as one of the greatest songs of the last century, and I’m proud to be able to make more people aware of it as [its] message is so strong and the people of the world really need it now.”

The accompanying video comes courtesy of Remi and Tatiana Crooks, and begins with a powerful message from the late Sandra Bland, before running through footage and images of protests, major events, Black lives senselessly lost, and more from the 60’s civil rights era to today, where our communities continue to fight against systemic racism and oppression. While that is playing, the collaborators can be seen performing their respective parts on the ground, seemingly in the position many of us are found in when dealing with excessive force from law enforcement.

Press play on “Is It Because I’m Black” below. You can also go to the aforementioned album’s official website, where the proceeds of all products — including Black On Purpose and associated merch — will go towards the charities listed.

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