In a recent cover story on Cypher Univercity, we wrote about the social and political power of the hip-hop tradition of the cypher. That power is unleashed and captured on high-quality video in “Black AF,” an impassioned new track featuring Lena Jackson, Jooselord, TAGEM, and 2FLY KNG. “It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times,” says the Nina Simone quote at the beginning, and the four MCs do that with righteous fury and uncompromising candor.

The cypher video was spearheaded by Miriam “Mir.I.Am” Tolbert, a hip-hop influencer who is the founder of promotional platform Carolina Waves and a radio host on Raleigh’s K97.5. In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, she brought together artists who are “actively involved in the fight for civil rights and police reform for minorities in our state and across the country,” she says. “Our generation needs to document the moment musically and on record, like previous generations did during their fights for civil rights, equality, social justice, and against systemic racism, police brutality, and war.”

All four performers go hard on the haunting, driving beat by Imani “Yaya Beatz” Pressley. 2FLY KNG, with a facemask under his chin, unrolls the broad landscape of a movement against white supremacy before TAGEM drills down into the moment of George Floyd’s death and the calculus of whose lives matter. Lena Jackson takes a more historical angle of attack as Pressley’s track amps up, and then Jooselord pulls off his signature ski mask to bring it home with a lyrically dazzling a capella.    

The video, which was released July 27, was recorded and filmed at Raleighwood Studios. The single dropped on streaming platforms July 31, with all proceeds going to local anti-racism nonprofits such as Democracy Green, Black Out Collective, Raleigh Pact,  and others. 

YouTube video

Follow Interim Editor in Chief Brian Howe on Twitter or send an email to

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.