Premiere | Boulevards, "Black As Hell!"

Boulevards' Jamil Rashad has been on the forefront in recent years of fashioning and refashioning aesthetic concepts of funk, rhythm & blues, hip hop and everything that cannot be contained by the constraints of genre. Like fellow contemporaries Dâm-Funk, XL Middleton, Thundercat, the entire Low End Theory, MoFunk Records luminaries and more—Rashad's creative works have consistently challenged the conventions of established canons by expanding the possibilities of what these art forms can express. The Raleigh, NC artist known to have a keen ear for the most obscure 12" disco mixes and dance pop rarities ever made continues along an innovative trajectory with a very timely and potent new single.

Proudly presenting the word premiere for "Black As Hell!"; Boulevards presents a testament to identity and self-esteem. A single that could not have arrived a moment sooner, Jamil sends out a statement of self-love, PMA and positive self image at a time when civil, social and human rights are at an all time low in Northern America (and the rest of the world). Rashad rededicates a relentless commitment to living an uplifting life centered around his own dreams and desires while defanging the pejoratives and perceptions of negativity into choruses of beauty and pride. From the title's word play on the mad as hell adage; Boulevards encapsulates the overwhelming senses of anger, outrage and emotions from the national dialogues (or lack thereof) into an indefatigable response of resounding resilience and love for the culture.

"Black As Hell" is Boulevards showcasing his style of punk funk at its finest. Taking cues from the concepts established back in the Motor City scene circuits during the 60s Civil Rights era—Jamil Rashad along with producer Leroy James Clampitt updates the pop progressions with purposes of immediacy and enlightenment for the today's modern muddles. The symbols, pillars and monuments of intolerance, ignorance and injustice are leveled with an electrifying force that reiterates the power of identity without apology. Boulevards banishes and obliterates all backwards politics and racist rhetoric into a rallying cry of unabashed self-acceptance and purpose that shouts out professions of unyielding inspiration and love for the entire world to hear. The framework of classic James Brown is exploded and accelerated into sharper dimensions that makes for an inclusive dance party that elaborates upon the I'm black and I'm proud mantra into the majesty of "Black As Hell!"—by which no weapon formed against shall prevail, nor prosper.

We caught up with Boulevards' Jamil Rashad to discuss the making of the new inspired single and more:

Describe how James Brown's "Say It Loud" informed the energy for "Black As Hell".

To be honest I was walking around the streets of Raleigh, and i was thinking about all the shootings and racial divide in this country. And even though there is racial divide in this country and brought from the south, "Black as Hell" is a way saying I'm black and I'm always going to be a person of color, embracing who I am. I'm proud to be a black man in this world.

The breakdown on how you arranged the new track.

Well [Leroy James Clampitt, aka Taste Nasa] is a genius. Funk is in my blood, funk his in his blood. The composition is high energy, we just wanted to make something that was raw and emotional and in your face. Its punk funk at is finest.

Insights into the importance of embracing identity during times of regressive political/civic/social rhetoric and behaviors.

I'm not a politician or activist I can only I relate to what I've gone through and reading a lot and understanding. I'm tired of black men getting shot for no reason, I'm tired of black men shooting other black men, I'm tired of, black Americans getting racially profiled, I'm tired of black men getting locked for petty reasons. I'm tired of the black youth in poor neighborhood not getting the education they deserve. I'm tired of black men not being there for their kids. I'm all for change but I'm tired of black people getting pushed out there homes for make room for brunch place. I'm tired of the stereotypes black people have.

 The forever fashionable Jamil Rashad; press photo courtesy of the artist.

The forever fashionable Jamil Rashad; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Thoughts on how everyone can utilize their voices and talents to combat racism, prejudice and injustice in our current era.

I believe social media is the right way to speak about your opinion. I think some people go to far and to reach for things that aren't there. But social media is a great platform.

Activism and artistry that has been inspiring you.

There aren't really activisms that inspire me, I'm not a activist just a artist making music. The movie Blindspotting was great, it spoke to me.

Perspectives on ways people can be more inclusive and collaborative with one another on personal/creative levels.

I think just having a open mind and listening. Having compassion and understanding.

 Styling in front of the foliage with Boulevards' Jamil Rashad; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Styling in front of the foliage with Boulevards' Jamil Rashad; press photo courtesy of the artist.

What are our shared world needs more of and perhaps less of right now.

The world needs more positivity and love. Less hate violence and negativity. Sounds cliché but true.

Ways people can get more active and involved in their own local communities to enact greater global change for everyone.

Just getting involved with the youth, they are our future. Teaching and learning.

What we can expect from the next Boulevards release.

Who knows about the Boulevards release, I'm just in the studio and touring right now. It will be funky.

Listen to more from Boulevards via Spotify, Soundcloud and everywhere.