Carlton and I stood on his back porch, on one of those summer days Atlanta has that are perfect for barbecuing. One of us said, “we should really do a follow up to the 50 Shades of Black Mixtape.” I told Carlton that what I would really love to do is make a mixtape that was a soundtrack for social activists; something they could listen to that would get them pumped up and fuel them to keep fighting. At one point, Carlton said he loved the potential of what this project represents, an ambition to create, in essence, "a soundtrack for a global movement of social justice." He threatened to start running around like he did at Starbucks before.
Once again a mixtape was born.
What I had in mind was an inclusive project that touched on various social movements across ethnic and gender boundaries. I wanted it to feel like it belonged to everyone and I wanted it to feel like power. It needed to bust you in the mouth. Repeatedly.
We also wanted a title that reflected that. As I told Carlton, I think it should be 4 words that just “punch, punch, punch, punch.” We eventually landed on the Social Justice Hustle Mixtape, a phrase we co-opted from multidisciplinary artist and community activist Christy NaMee Eriksen, and a phrase that afforded us an opportunity to collaborate with her. She describes her cover design as a “mixture of clarity and straight forwardness, mixed in with the bit of chaos/anxiety/multitude of emotions we all experience in the movement. (In thinking of) hustle and grace - the work, the work, the work, grueling but necessary, but also (with a) sense of beauty, kindness, and loveliness that I think activists have to hold on to to keep ourselves real. To each other and to ourselves.”
There is a certain painful resonance to the project at this particular moment in history, which reminds us of the relationship between Emmett Till and Tamir Rice, and where every Michael Brown or Fong Lee or CeCe McDonald is a tragic representative of many other injustices. The mixtape, hopes to connects many pieces, many emotions, many struggles, on many levels. It feels heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. It champions collaborative movement and being imaginative in that collaboration. -Kwame
The Beautiful Struggle.
The Struggle is Beautiful In Every Shade
The Social Justice Hustle Mixtape.
Feel it. Breathe it. Hustle.
Curated and Mixed by Kwame Phillips
Cover Art Design by Christy Namee Eriksen
Co-Produced by Carlton Mackey