By Pat Gunther
Local MC and Ardmore, Okla. native Bryan Marcel Williams, better known as Marcel P. Black, is putting a brand new twist on the constantly changing genre of hip-hop.
With the release of his seventh project in six years, titled Black Collar, Marcel offers up something seldom heard in Baton Rouge’s musical landscape. “As hip hop grows older, the music doesn’t really grow older, it still stays like a young 20-something kid, a freshman in college,” Black said. “And as I grow older I’m having conversations with people like myself who are professionals, they have families… and so whatever a Young Thug or Migos is talking about, nobody my age can really relate to them.”
It’s Black’s recognition of this fact that has led him from recording with his high-school buddies in Oklahoma to a bonafide rapper, performing alongside the likes of Killer Mike and El-P in August of 2013.
“I know a whole lot more people who are just trying to make ends meet and trying to make sure they have enough money to get their kids Christmas presents,” he said. “It’s more people going through the everyday struggle or whatever, and so, pretty much this album is me growing into my 30s and just understanding like there needs to be a voice for people like myself, as opposed to everything else out there.”
So, in that vein, Black has developed a new, personal concept that he refers to as “Black Collar”
“If you’re white collar you are the man, if you’re blue collar you’re working for the man, and if you’re black collar that means you’re a man or woman trying to take their own destiny into their own hands and create something,” he explained.
The 31-year-old husband and father of two then took it upon himself to develop this new project from January to July of 2013, going on hiatus several weeks at a time waiting on the final production to come in.
Working with a slew of producers, such as his cousin and Chicago-native J Filly, CZA for Crescent Kingz and Klassik Beats has allowed Black to create something that only the father of two children and youth development worker could.
“I can say Marcel P. Black the artist is 99.5% Bryan Marcel Williams, the husband, the father, the worker, the son,” Black revealed. “I mean I’m literally there as a male figure for some of these young brothers and sisters cause they end up wylin’ out and they need somebody positive, and they kinda just need someone to redirect them. It’s a fight every single day.”
Despite all of this, though, Black is not willing to sacrifice lyrical depth or production quality to send a positive, clean message that inspires others.
“It was an experiment to see, like people always say, ‘We don’t like conscious rap because we don’t like the production,’” Black told me over coffee. “Alright, well cool, I’ll give you some conscious rap over the same type of production you listen to in the club or over the radio, and tell me you don’t like it.”
With all odds against him in today’s radio single, drug-dealing, gun totting bombast, Black’s strategy has paid off.
“My fan base grew, my show bookings grew, and festivals and things of that nature all came from it,” he said. “So I was trying to prove a point, I was kinda bending myself to show everybody else I could step into new terrain.”
For people thirsting for a change of pace and some positive, well-intentioned hip-hop, Black Collar and its unexplored territory will be on full display at the Lagniappe Records Release Party on Sunday, December 14th. When asked about his hopes for the turnout, Black kept it concise: “It has evidence of true-school hip hop, and at the same time he’s trying to push the culture forward. It’ll be a very energetic, fun, live show.”
Visit marcelpblack.bandcamp.com to download Black Collar, or check out the album release party for physical copies, older material and merchandise.