Last spring, Dallas rapper Buffalo Black was scrolling Instagram on his phone when a post caught his eye. It was from noted director Spike Lee. He needed independent artists for his next film, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, which was being financed through Kickstarter. Lee asked for artists to email him tracks and Buffalo Black, a big fan of Lee's work, eagerly did so. Within a few weeks, his life would be turned on its head.
Lee liked what he heard from Black and personally contacted him within a few weeks of his submission. To Black's surprise, Lee chose the song "Enter the Void" to be featured in the film. The great director personally handpicked every song on the film's soundtrack. What's more, in an even bigger nod to Black, Lee chose "Enter the Void" to appear in the film's trailer.
"That was a validating moment for me," says Black. "He was a big fan of the visual aspect of the lyrics." Black signed a contract, submitted a few versions of the song, and his work was done. But he and Lee have remained friends, staying in touch via text and email.
In their creative fields, Black and Lee both address "very African-American centric issues." Black tries to address common plagues happening right now. "It's a monolithic thing with police brutality and black people," Black says. "It's a monolithic thing with black inequality." Lee has examined the dynamics of race and the spirit of being black in films like She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing and School Daze.
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is an adaptation of a classic Blaxploitation vampire film called Ganja & Hess from 1973. When Black first submitted his music to Lee, he had no idea what the film was about, other than that he thought it had a great title. "I had no idea about the synopsis of the film," he says. "It was all under wraps." But now he knows what the film is about: "It's about people who are addicted to blood," he says, and his music is somehow a perfect match.
But Black hasn't seen the film yet. He wasn't able to go to New York for the cast and crew screening after the film was complete due to a show he was committed to playing. "Of course I could've seen it by now," he says. "But I want that big screen experience." As luck would have it, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus will be playing at Texas Theatre this Friday night.
After the film, Black will lead a very large bill of local talent. Blue, the Misfit will perform; X, the Misfit will perform his first solo set. Lord Byron and -topic are on the bill, as well as the effortlessly gorgeous avant-garde pop of Lily Taylor. Spike Lee agreed to sponsor the event, so this is officially "A Spike Lee Joint." The celebrated director will also provide a short video introducing the concert after the film.
"That's a nod to myself and the other performers," Black says proudly. It's common practice for Lee to provide such videos for events that he's sponsoring but is unable to attend in person.
Black's work with Lee has brought him stature and increased exposure. It has opened up a lot of new venues. "My piece of music which I modestly recorded at my friend's house two years ago," he says, in disbelief. "It's just unreal. This opened up my eyes, showed me where I could go and what I can do."
"The film touches more along the lines of the occult of the American secret societies," says Buffalo Black. "Beyond just a typical vampire flick." The imagery of his lyrics harken to a lot of that. Buffalo Black makes references to pagan gods in "Enter the Void." "But the song is really about succumbing to the love of someone else," he says. "Becoming, ultimately, weak."
Buffalo Black has always been a big Spike Lee fan. "I feel like a lot of his critiques are often mishandled," he says. "Dissected, spun into the media cycle, and then perception is reality." When it comes to his favorite Spike Lee films, he prefers Malcom X, "one of the best biopics ever made," and When the Levees Broke, the documentary about Hurricane Katrina. "You'd think right in the backyard of the United States a better response would have been warranted," he says. "But the place was treated like a third-world country of sorts."
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Here and there, Buffalo Black chooses to speak on certain topics. But overall he just tries to stay true to himself without getting caught up in ideologies or any comparisons to one of his heroes, like Spike Lee.
Buffalo Black with Blue, the Misfit, -topic, Lord Byron, Ark the God Given MC, Lily Taylor, and X, the Misfit takes place at Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd, on Friday, February 20, film at 8 p.m., concert at 10 p.m., $5-$14.
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