“You know I wouldn’t change a thing, because that would change everything…” –“I Love My Life,” Black Stax
Black History Month always brings out the talkers. Talk a big game. Show the same historical clips. Spout clichés. Next.
Every once in a while, something real comes along to knock us back, take stock, breathe deeply, and appreciate. Seattle’s Black Stax is that something real. A heavenly, heady combination of hip-hop soul and straight-up jazz street, *MCs Silas Blak and Jace ECAj (Silent Lambs Project), with the magnificent vocalist/actress Felicia Loud, put up and put out spins on every cool hook, vibe, and groove imaginable, borrowing heavily from 1960s/70s Marvin Gaye political commentary and 1990s urban dance house. They can party, but they also use their music to teach, influence, and uplift.
They are the truest tribute to Black History Month, the living embodiment of the best to come from a painful, mixed legacy of enslavement, inspirational heroism in the face of wars, institutional racism, and segregation, Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of hope, and our first black president, Barack Obama.
The group’s celebration of love, life, and light is reflected in every song from their Talking Buildings debut album, released [in early 2011] on iTunes. Black Stax debuted a single sure to be an instant hit, “I Love My Life,” in a new music video.
In the hands of Felicia Loud, “I Love My Life,” carries an important message about honoring your family, even if — as in the song — some of your family have caused you pain or have been absent, and carrying on that message for the generations to come. From a dark place, wonderful things can result, with the proper, open and welcoming attitude. What’s wonderful about this song is, it turns the darkness around as an opportunity to make changes to be better, to rise above.
The music video features the singer, Loud, in all her fine, relaxed glory, joining a large, warm gathering of her MCs, family, friends and supporters as everyone enjoys some home-grown barbecue and home-grown love. All races are included in the party in an especially touching montage, as each shows photographs of loved ones, showing where they came from, their roots, their pride and joy… black, white, mixed races.
The video shoot — in a Georgetown industrial building used for welding and directed/edited by Chris Parker — was apparently a breeze. “We transformed a space use for welding and made it into a family BBQ. Literally. Added some cameras, lighting, good friends and some talented people and walked away with a music video,” described Jace of Black Stax.
The message came through loud and clear, and is reflective of the vibe of Black Stax. They aren’t about hate, violence, or negativity. They embrace a positive outlook on the world through some funky, phat beats and confident, arresting vocalization. “‘I Love My Life’ is about making the most of every day and recognizing those that came before you. We are huge on family and were able to share the experience of recording our first music video with those who mean the most to us. We hope everyone likes the result!,” vocalist Loud said.
Review first appeared in Examiner Feb. 16, 2011.
It is April 2017, and Black Stax continues to represent the voice of the people from the headquarters of the Emerald City. Every few months, they come out with a firestorm of an original song, designed to shake up the status quo and elevate feelings into ideals. The *Black Stax of today is Felicia Loud and MC Jace ECaj. “Our sound is the soul of a songbird full of parables and riddles. We speak to the streets, classrooms, clubs and community,” Jace ECAj said in an Examiner interview Aug. 18, 2010. The newest cut from the ongoing Black Stax rap-meets-jazz-soul chronicles is “Fiyah Storm,” which plays in short staccato pronouncements, like a modern-day Moses on the mountain.