“There’s a young man named ‘King’, petrified fields smell of evaporated blood, bullet shells as rocks,” begins Keith Stanfield on “King”, the most recent single from Long Angeles duo MOORS. The poetic rapper and actor who co-stars in Donald Glover’s television show “Atlanta” is half of the musical project MOORS. The other half, Hrishikesh Hirway, founder of songwriter’s podcast Song Exploder, supplies the soundscape on King” with a tense, militant-moving beat.
Keith Stanfield told us he finds inspiration in the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, Langston Hughes, and Johnny Cash. Like these men, Stanfield records his thoughts with adept poetic maneuvering and a split-open, raw delivery. The song deals with distress, disaster and development within the artist’s life, and by proxy strikes a nerve deep within the consciousness of American history.
Stanfield’s internal and double rhymes strike hard and fast. He describes a past where he would “run with the goons subtle and smooth / Untouchable troop / Gutter platoon.” A history of violence left the singer with a plagued mind and vacant soul, and after growing through a history of violence the lines of morality become blurry and even non-existent. The young King asserts the gold within his inner self, which he will continue to manifest and bring forth amidst a harsh reality in which forces of evil are arrayed against him. Among such pressure, “don’t be surprised when I don’t know how to act,” Stanfield asserts. With “nothing to lose” a “thug on the loose” is “bringing a truth back”. The rapper’s literary prowess continues to shine through with double-entendre’s like “fuck a copper we goin’ platinum”. Though the truth of self-empowerment and self-knowledge runs through the lyrics, it’s a dark and at times despairing poetic picture which Stanfield paints on “King”. More than anything else, it’s an honest picture – of his life and the lives of others who struggle through oppression both physical and emotional, whether originating from the penal system or from one’s own harsh memories.
The assertion of self-worth within “King”, the reminder to find the gold inside yourself, is potent and timely. It’s some of the most striking work yet from a group named after the powerful African Muslim empire of the Middle Ages. We look forward to more material from this exceptionally creative pair of artists.