Esperanza Spalding’s new video for “Black Gold”, the first single from her upcoming album Radio Music Society, is a celebration of the oft-overlooked legacy of African-Americans’ history pre-slavery and pre-colonialization. The video from the reigning Best New Artist Grammy winner begins with a father discussing the rich and storied history of the African continent with his two young sons. Neo-soul songtress Algebra Blessett then appears with Spalding as the two break into the chorus:

hold your head as high as you can/high enough to see who you are little man/life sometimes is cold and cruel/maybe no one else will tell you/so remember that you are black gold.

Not since Angie Stone’s 2001 song, “Brotha“, has a commercial single from a major female artist sought to specificly target empowering African-American males. This is a powerful message in contrast to the stereotypical depiction of black men as slackers, drug dealers, or absentee fathers often seen in mainstream media. Also by tapping into the Ghanaian concept of Sankofa, Spalding’s”Black Gold” conveys the understanding that in order to move forward,  you must go back and reclaim your past. Taking pride in one’s history helps create a clearer vision for the future. Even in the era of Obama, it doesn’t hurt for black youth (and the general public) to be reminded that black history didn’t begin on the shores of North America.

Radio Music Society will be released March 20, 2012 on  Heads Up International. 

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