WATCH: MH the Verb Drops Afrofuturist ‘Yo America’ Video

By Sameer Rao Feb 21, 2018

Rapper Marcus "MH the Verb" Harris juxtaposes modern anti-Black oppression with the hope of a liberated future in the music video for “Yo America,” which he released via YouTube on Friday (February 16).

An emailed statement explained that the Philadelphia-based artist originally wrote the song’s lyrics as a poem in response to the racism that put President Donald Trump in the White House:

Yeah, they choked out Eric (Watch the mother cry just to give us water)

But they can’t kill my spirit (Founding Fathers gave us laws to keep us all in order)

Blue flames don’t change the true pains when the noose hangs (But the laws of man ain’t the same for daughters)

I hope these pigs gonna wear it (How, on Native land, your immigration plan still restricting borders?)

The chorus—“But when they go low, that’s when we get high"—nods to a speech delivered by then-first lady Michelle Obama at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

The song comes from the Harris’ latest album, “Afronaut,” which he released through his own ArtHouse95 record label and music collective in November 2017. MH the Verb wrote on his Bandcamp page that the album revolves around its titular protagonist:

The concept originally started as a storyline/narrative about a futuristic hero who travels back to this complicated moment in time to inspire and empower today’s artists and youth. Developing that idea, [my ArtHouse95 collaborators and I] spawned the Afronaut, a symbol of power and progress and a theme for our work. We aren’t rocket scientists, but we believe we can fix problems and create a better world. We haven’t walked on the moon, but we remember the dreams of our youth and still gaze at the stars in wonderment, believing that great distances are reachable. We aren’t aliens, but we celebrate our differences, realizing that diversity is beautiful and equality is possible. We believe that the art will lift people up beyond all the dark clouds. If we can create heroes, we can become heroes.

The rapper introduced the Afronaut, portrayed by musician Kristin “Cheva Kovax” Tolbert, in the video for another album track, “Traffic." That video features the Afronaut washing up on unknown shores; the “Yo America” visual shows her wandering and dancing around a large abandoned bookstore.