WATCH: Rapper Akua Naru Honors Black Literary Achievement in ‘Toni Morrison’

By Sameer Rao Mar 09, 2017

Rapper and photographer Akua Naru‘s work frequently invokes Black women’s lived experiences and creative history. This thematic focus shines through on her song "Toni Morrison," which she released as a live version today (March 9).

Like the original song from her 2015 album, "The Miner’s Canary," this full-band rendition features verses and spoken-word passages that recognize the "Beloved" author’s influence on Naru and other Black writers. The lyrics honor Naru’s gratitude to Morrison for creating literature that validated her sense of self. Here are a few key phrases that ring over the song’s jazz-influenced instrumental:

  • "Prescribed invisible lives until you reclaimed it, denied the White gaze another brush to paint with" 
  • "And though the world was three-fifths and fractured, we’re whole main characters, female protagonists centralized Blackness" 
  • "How can one hand hold the pen, one pen hold the people?" 

Watch a performance of the live version above.