CXB_Blak Rapp photo essay

watsonfestival

This photo essay is an observation and reflection

of the artist Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A., an art activist

that speak out through rap and performance their

struggles being a African American womxn who has

gone to prison.

In + Out of the

Limelight

In the limelight, you can’t take your eyes off them.

Yet outside of their performance, somehow they fade

into a gentle presence. This dichotomy is explored

through a series of juxtaposed images in and out of

the limelight.

Photo essay about Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A

By Christina Brown

Taken during the WATS:On? Festival

Blak Rapp’s one womxn play during the WATS:On? Festival 2019: NOW.


Blak Rapp during the music video filming conducted by Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts students

Blak Rapp during transit from one filming location to the next

For the WATS:On? Festival 2019: NOW. , Blak Rapp played an instrumental role as one of two lead artists

in the music video “Speak no Evil” produced by Carnegie Mellon University students, in addition to

performing their own one-womxn play titled the “Memoirs of an Artivist”.

Tackling many challenging topics such as African American injustice, female injustice, and female

prison injustice through art and performance, Blak Rapp used their voice to convey passion, anger, and

sadness.


BW PRINT

However when you look past the intense language and performances, Blak shows a side of respectful

gentleness. It was like seeing a switch flip on and off.

Blak Rapp during the music video filming conducted by Carnegie

Mellon University College of Fine Arts students


It was quite beautiful how they lit sage before a performance, getting rid of bad energy in the space.

Their thoughts and actions were gentle, despite the pain you hear in their voice.

Blak Rapp during the music video filming conducted by Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts students


Blak Rapp during the music video filming conducted by Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts students

What they said resonated within everyone in the crew, we were all mesmerized by their rap and

performance, gutted by the pain and empowered by their movement.

But at the same time, we were also mesmerized by Blak Rapp, the person.


Blak Rapp and Jasiri X during the music video filming conducted by Carnegie

Mellon University College of Fine Arts students

Sometimes, you just saw them sitting there, contemplating.

BW PRINT

Blak Rapp during a break in filming


But their pain was real, it was evident on stage. They bring out their vulnerability, performing out their

own trauma to help send out a message - a cry for help.

It is so real and so emotional that it cuts into your heart.

Blak Rapp during the one-womxn play


They fought for what they believed in, they empowered others,

Blak Rapp used their own experience to help others not have to

experience the same thing.

Blak Rapp during the one-womxn play

Blak Rapp after their one-womxn play, talking about the Dignity Act Now

Campaign that help incarcerated women


It was painful, it was

necessary,

it was life changing.

In and out of the limelight, Blak Rapp’s energy and soul breathes a new

perspective into everyone that have the privilege of witnessing.

Blak Rapp provides the voice as loud as day that things are not okay, and

that we have the power to make a change.

WATS:On? Festival 2019: NOW.

Curated by Spike Wolff and Cassandra Howard

Blak Rapp performing live during the WATS:On? Festival

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