The Social Dig: “BLK Magic”

Photo courtesy of iLLism/Generation iLL

Photo courtesy of iLLism/Generation iLL

Chanell Noise, Web Staffer

“BLK Magic” by iLLism speaks to the intrinsic value of Black culture just in time for Black History Month.


Black culture, via an American lens, is rich. It can be argued that American Black culture: a blend of eurocentric standards, western religion, antebellum southern traditions and remixed genres of music, etc is simply American culture. Many American inventions, cities, institutions and sub-cultures were created by Black people.


The first African indentured servants arrived in the American colonies in 1619. As long as the country has flowed and ebbed, so have Black people and the culture we create. Every moment in our country’s history is marked by a poignant response, comment or story from our Black sisters and brothers that reminds us how rich and interwoven Black history is with American history.


What would this whole world be if they loved black people as much as they love black culture?” This line opens the smooth R&B and hip-hop fusion track on the album Illuminate. iLLism, being from the Twin Cities area, draws much of their inspiration from other midwest legends like Prince, Morris Day and The Time Band and Mint Condition. And like these Black artists, iLLism wastes no time celebrating their melanated roots.


The hook bops along: “My melanin drip- it drip like this,”. Melanin is broad term for a group of pigments found in organisms. It is found in skin, hair and eyes in human beings. Darker individuals have more melanin in these areas while fairer individuals have less. Recently, the term has been used in Black empowerment speech to celebrate and uplift darker-skinned folks.


The hook is not the only place for a melanin celebration. Every verse in “BLK Magic” aims to honor Blackness. Envy raps a line about loving his “nappy hair and dark skin that [he’s] proud just to be in,”. He goes on to ask “Why they uncomfortable?” referring to anti-Black sentiments.


The question comes early in the song and leaves room for iLLism to expand on why there is no need for uncomfortability with Blackness. The duo also expands on how Black people will revel in themselves regardless of the space that anti-Blackness takes up.


Fancy sings some lines: “I’m so proud of all we’ve done….they want to separate us and make us feel the opposite.” Her commentary echoes Envy’s multiple bars celebrating their culture- from fashion to phenotypic features. She also comments, like Envy, on anti-Blackness tropes of uncomfortability, separation and othering.


The song actually concludes in what sounds like a Juneteenth celebration and commentary. Juneteenth marked the last day of enforced slavery in the United States; enslaved people in Texas were told that they were emancipated months before after officials brought news from the east coast. I believe iLLism acted with purpose by releasing their album in time for Black History Month.


Each song, much like “BLK Magic”, acts as a form of cultural commentary. The duo makes solid music, making use of well-written songs and instrumental backing from award-winning producers. But they also tell solid stories, ask important questions and speak on relevant themes from the Black community.