First Listen: Nadir stirs our emotions with "Run"

Photo courtesy of Nadir Omowale

(June 19, 2020) A racially based travesty inspired guitarist and funkmaster Nadir to pen “Run.” The song addresses Black America’s 500-year trek to outpace white supremacy while also honoring African American perseverance. Nadir originally wrote “Run,” an urgent anthem that fuses funk with Afrobeat, in the aftermath of the 1998 racially based murder of James Byrd. Byrd’s murder by three white men who lured them into their truck by offering to take him home before beating him, chaining him to the back of their truck and dragging him and leaving his  dismembered body, was a modern-day lynching.

However, Nadir did not release “Run” in the years immediately following Byrd’s lynching even though he wrote the song a week after the murder and performed it at an open mic in Nashville a few days later. Nadir held off in part because the gruesome details of Byrd’s murder didn’t match the story told in the song’s lyrics.

(June 19, 2020) A racially based travesty inspired guitarist and funkmaster Nadir to pen “Run.” The song addresses Black America’s 500-year trek to outpace white supremacy while also honoring African American perseverance. Nadir originally wrote “Run,” an urgent anthem that fuses funk with Afrobeat, in the aftermath of the 1998 racially based murder of James Byrd. Byrd’s murder by three white men who lured them into their truck by offering to take him home before beating him, chaining him to the back of their truck and dragging him and leaving his  dismembered body, was a modern-day lynching.

However, Nadir did not release “Run” in the years immediately following Byrd’s lynching even though he wrote the song a week after the murder and performed it at an open mic in Nashville a few days later. Nadir held off in part because the gruesome details of Byrd’s murder didn’t match the story told in the song’s lyrics.

“It was too specific. It placed the protagonist into those chains behind a similar truck in the hot sun and forced him to run. I wanted the song to be more universal. I wanted it to speak about determination and the need to keep moving no matter what. It also had to speak to the very specific struggle that we face as African people every single day all over the world.”

So, the singer/songwriter filed “Run.” He returned to “Run” every so often - reworking the music and lyrics with the grim realization that the subject matter would remain relevant and that real-life events would eventually match the story of a Black man in an existential race against white supremacy. Nadir knew he had to release “Run” when he heard the details and saw the video of the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Georgia man killed after being pursued by a father and son who grabbed guns, hopped in their pickup track  and chased him because they believed the jogger had burglarized a construction site. Armed vigilantes killed Arbery for the offense of jogging and defending himself while Black.

Nadir is not a clairvoyant. He simply realized that American racism would eventually assume a form that fit neatly into the artistic space that he created. Nadir’s song “Run” will  debut on Juneteenth. Check it out here.

By Howard Dukes

Nadir Omowale - "Run"

 
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