Deniro Farrar: Sole Food


[Feb. 21; CULTRAP WORLDWIDE/BetterVibes]

Deniro Farrar’s Sole Food is the hip-hop album the world needs now, as we navigate a global pandemic coupled with systemic racism and state-sanctioned violence against Black bodies. 

Extending the legacy of Negro spirituals and blues music, hip-hop has functioned as survival music for Black people since its conception. Farrar’s project is intentionally situated within these legacies when the opening track invites listeners to “get a taste” of the “music for the spirit.” 

Without the support of a major label, the Charlotte-based rapper has built a global fan base. With an Instagram following of 52K, an impressive 100K YouTube subscribers, and 188K monthly listeners on Spotify, Farrar’s message is consistent: His goal is to liberate the culture.

From offering fitness tips and promoting healthy eating habits to his #FreeGame and #SundayTestimony virtual conversations, he offers access to liberation in a manner that separates him from everybody else, placing him among the likes of Tupac and Nipsey Hussle. 

The album’s title is a nod to Black American Southern cuisine, which is now, as Vanessa Hayford says, “associated with comfort and decadence, [but] was born out of struggle and survival.” 

Deniro documents stories of struggle and survival in his music. On “Sins,” he outlines how poor choices made in low-income communities are often a direct reflection of systemic social, cultural, structural, and economic ills. “Poorly planned for, chaotically conceived / Born Black into this world made it hard for me to breathe,” he begins. 

Survival balances out the struggle as Farrar reveals that liberation is what freed him. In the first verse, he refers to himself as the “modern-day Huey, Marcus, and Malcolm X,” paying homage to Black revolutionaries. 

One of the most inspiring tracks on the album is “Prison Systems,” infused with the sacred aesthetics of Negro spirituals and the West African call-and-response tradition. Farrar retells the familiar story of a Black man being gunned down by police. The lyrics offer alarming statistics: “Federal conviction rate 98 percent / Meaning they can take your life with none of the evidence.”

But without a doubt, the strength of Sole Food is Deniro Farrar’s storytelling ability. He vividly depicts what living in America while Black and poor is like and leaves us with #FreeGame that encourages folks to not only liberate but also decolonize their minds. 

Despite its value, conscious or political rap has often been written off as boring or depressing music that is unmarketable. Regardless of how serious or political the content is, each track creates space for listeners to catch a vibe, thus making Sole Food far from boring or depressing. Consider it a contemporary lyrical textbook that conjures healing. 

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