New Colors of Rap: Berhana Speaks on Colorism on Hip Hop/Neo-Soul EP

When hip hop and soul fuses and speaks on racial injustices and colorism, best believe its coming from Berhana.

In our recent podcast, we discussed the new era of hip hop and genre blending when it comes to artists like Post Malone, Anderson .Paak, XXXTentacion, Amine and Yeek. Contemporary hip hop exemplifies change from its classical boom bap beats. Atlanta-bred rapper Berhana is an addition to the expansion of hip hop’s sound, breaking boundaries of the genre’s umbrella through its unique take on downtempo hip hop and cultural inclusion/exclusion.

Story | Matthew Gonzalez

Berhana’s self-titled debut EP was produced over a series of night sessions with producer Sapphire Adizes. Written in the Afro-Asiatic language Amharic, the cover art is perhaps a nod to his Ethiopian roots, which directly translates to the music within the EP. In the opening track “Brooklyn Drugs”, he underlays the voice of his aunt and grandmother speaking their native tongue.

Wade Green” mimics the aforementioned gesture, and references the similarities between the Bible and Egyptian icons in the music video to allude to his dual cultural identities.

Janet” is a neo-soul fusion record dedicated to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert. We’ll see Berhana in white clothes, riding his bike in a suburban neighborhood in the music video. Eventually his fresh apparel stains, which symbolizes his and Hubert’s struggle with colorism as he sings: “Wonder if you’ll dismiss me/Maybe light-skin Aunt Viv me”

The song addresses racial prejudice, colorism, and social outcasting, the same issues Hubert felt she encountered as part of the Fresh Prince cast.

– Related: How Conscious Rappers Are Actually Millennial Historians

Berhana is an example is a true blended artist who fearlessly takes his dual cultural perspective of the world and incorporates it into his music. Download his EP for free on his website.

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