Contributor’s Note: Marcel P. Black is an emcee from Baton Rouge, LA. He’s toured extensively around America spreading his own brand of conscious hip-hop. You can listen to Marcel’s prolific discography below. His new album “In Search Of The Black Messiah” drops everywhere Nov. 1st. In this interview with Madness To Creation, Marcel P. Black talks about the importance of being an emcee and mental health awareness. Catch Marcel in your city beginning November 17th. Fans can find Marcel P. Black at the following locations:
Richard: Hi Marcel, for an audience who isn’t familiar with your music, how do you describe yourself when people ask ‘what do you do”? “What kind of music do you make”
Marcel: I am an indie/underground conscious touring emcee, and I make Pro-Black spiritual conscious rap for gang members.
Richard: I found your music because you were in a similar tour circuit and I kept seeing your name around the southeast. That was during your ‘15 states or bust tour’, where did that tour take you and what did it mean to you as a touring artist to go that far from home as a headliner?
Marcel: I ended up doing 17 states that year, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. It was important for me to establish myself outside of the south east where I’m from if I ever wanted to be more than a regional artist. Most booking agents don’t take chances on people that aren’t already moving, so it was important for me to go out there and build my fanbase organically. It paid off big time.
Richard: Hitting the road isn’t easy though, I could imagine being a father and full-time employee makes it even harder, how do you keep mentally and physically healthy on the road? Why is touring important to an independent artist?
Marcel: I try to eat less fast food and more fruits and veggies. Lots of water and tea for my vocal chords. I stopped drinking, and sobriety has greatly improved my live show, and I have more energy due to not being hungover. I get more shit done. If I have a day off I hit the gym to make sure I keep my cardio up. Exercising and sobriety have led to a lot of weight loss, so my live show is better than ever, and my mind is much clearer and more focused.
Touring is important because it helps build and maintain relationships with old fans and scenes, while simultaneously creating new fans and relationships.
Richard: On Bandcamp, your bio says you’re an ‘Emcee, DJ, Writer, Youth Development Worker, Community Resource Coordinator, Former Block Breeder, Chess Teacher, Live Performer, Father, Husband, Revolutionary, Historian, Scholar, Proletariat, God.” Tell me about these roles and how you balance them and why you don’t say ‘rapper’ and consider yourself an Emcee first and foremost?
Marcel: That’s an old bio that needs to be changed! *laughs* I’m def a father and husband first, then all those others things come next. Those titles are just snapshots of who I am as a man and how they intersect with who I am as an artist. To me the title of being an “emcee” is an honorable distinction, but I don’t shit on being a “rapper.” I love the culture and craft of rhyming, and I take it serious.
Richard: Your newest release “In Search of The Black Messiah” is characteristically political, black and proud. All your albums have a message or goal, from sharing your experiences as a Baton Rouge Emcee in “Jigga City Blues” or growing up in Ardmore, OK in “The Only Child” to your more recent works (4thaculture, Cry Freedom, Seven) tackling national and global issues; white supremacy, equality, the purity of hip-hop. What are you trying to say in your new album? Who is the Black Messiah?
Marcel: The album is me taking myself out of being the Black Messiah, and using composite stories from my own experiences, as well as family members and the youth I’ve worked with, focusing on the work of tryinna find the Black Messiah. I talk about the different systems from politics, drugs, religion, the Feds, the private prison industry, the music industry and how they are complicit in holding Black people and the folk we intersect with.
Edgar whoever said, and I paraphrase, that one of the goals of Cointelpro is to separate the young Black male from the revolution, in hopes of preventing the rise of the next Black Messiah that can lead Black people to freedom. This album is me tryna reconnect young Black people to the revolution. I don’t know who the Black Messiah is, and there’s a young dude/sister on the corner that doesn’t know who they are yet too. Gotta find em.
Richard: How is your music a ‘conduit for peace’? What your goal as a conscious emcee?
Marcel: I don’t know if my music is a conduit for peace or not. Hip-Hop is definitely a conduit for peace though. It brings people together and allows people to express themselves in healthy and safe ways so others can understand and learn from different points of view.
As a conscious emcee, my goal is just to properly articulate what real people go thru. Say the things that people don’t have the platform to say, advocate for the people who don’t have a voice, educate the people who don’t have access to certain types of resources. Always speaking against oppression in action & in song.
Richard: You’re affiliated with two movements. “Culture Over Everything” and “real emcees don’t rap over vocals”. What are the origins of these movements and how do you represent them in your music?
Marcel: Culture Over Everything was started by Rapsody. When I met her in ’17 she gave me her blessing to use it. To me it means keeping pure/genuine cultural intentions of Hip-Hop over everything else. Love for the craft/artform and culture of Hip-Hop is more important than money, cars, women etc. It’s about loving Hip-Hop, the cultural history, and the people who engage it.
I am the leader of the “Stop Rapping Over Vocals Movement,” and our slogan is “Real Emcees Dont Rap Over Vocals.” July is International Stop Rapping Over Vocals Month,” and July 25th is International Stop Rapping Over Vocals Day. Once again, it’s about pushing the culture/craft/artform of being a dope emcee. Rehearsing your sets, not being too stoned/drunk to say your raps, knowing your words, good breath control, good showmanship. All things things can only make a rapper better. Enough of that weak ass lazy ass emcee shit. Heads wanna see a show.
Richard: There are a handful of rappers on my timeline, Big Lo, Stubbily Mug, you, that post their running times, how long have you been running and how does it help you better your craft?
Marcel: I began this journey after I found out I was diabetic about a year ago. I don’t wanna die young, so I stopped drinking, eating better, and working out. I hit the elliptical about 3 days a week for 30 minutes a rip, averaging about 3 miles every run. My stamina on stage is much better, my flow/breath control is better, my mind is clearer, as I use running as self care. Makes me better as a writer, in the booth, and on stage. Because of it I’ve lost nearly 70 lbs, nearly reversed my diabetes, and I’m in the best emcee shape of my life.
Richard: If you had any advice for an up and coming rapper what would it be?
Marcel: Love your craft, invest in yourself. And remember, the things that advance your career are things you do outside the booth & off the stage, without the microphone.
And there you have it! Fans can check out Marcel P. Black on the “In Search of the Black Messiah” tour. Check out the tour dates below:
Thu. 10/17- Uncle Lou’s in Orlando, Florida
Fri. 10/18- 5 Star Dive Bar in Tampa, Florida
Sat. 10/19- Green Door in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Sun. 10/20- 926 Bar & Grill in Tallahassee, Florida
Tue. 10/22- The Music Room in Atlanta, Georgia
Thu. 10/24- Firehouse in Birmingham, Alabama
Fri. 10/25- Offbeat in Jackson, Mississippi
Sat. 10/26- Slim House in Memphis, Tennessee
Sun. 10/27- Soundpony in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tue. 10/29- Flamingo Cantina in Austin, Texas
Wed. 10/30- Limelight in San Antonio, Texas
Fri. 11/1- Mid City Ballroom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
For tickets and further information on any of the shows listed above, click here.
Check out the music video for “Hallelujah” by Marcel P. Black below: