Since his artistic/existential evolution – marked by a name change – Kemba, fka YC The Cynic, has been on a roll. The incisive, intricate bars embedded throughout his critically-lauded Negus album has expanded his visibility and vaulted his skillset to the heights of the hip-hop industry, marked by his onstage co-sign from Kendrick Lamar. His strides in 2016 alone are a strong model for artists thinking of re-ideating their presentation or pondering the prosperity of substantive content.
After recently completing a nationwide tour, Kemba is back with a new visual from Negus, the typically-resonant “Caesar’s Rise.” Over steady, reverberating drums, Kemba explores the fragility of Black life at the hands of intra-community violence and predacious outside forces. He drops the sobering reminder that “it wasn’t that long ago that niggas was in the Bronx Zoo” and surmises that he’s used the N-word so much that he’s offended by his own usage.
The visual follows three friends through a day which gradually turns them against each other – and leaves Blood on someone’s hands. The use of sacred imagery at the crux of the conflict is a perfect tactic to tell a story of socially-induced moral corruption.