In a world that already hates and fears them, what if only black people had superpowers? That is the core question lying at the heart of Kwanza Osajyefo’s new original graphic novel BLACK. The crowd-funded graphic novel from Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph and Sarah Litt is a 120-page story told across 6 chapters. Given the current sociopolitical climate in the United States and the fractious relationship between police officers and the black community, the book’s subject matter seems more prescient and important than ever.
“The story of BLACK is inspired by real and universal truths we face as humans with a sci-fi twist,” Osajyefo told Nerdist. “BLACK has a particular perspective, but is a sci-fi story about humanity and how we struggle with issues in our society.”
The graphic novel follows Kareem Jenkins, a young black man who survives being gunned down by police, only to discover that he is part of something much larger. Now he is saddled with the decision of whether or not to tell the world about one of the biggest lies in history or keep the knowledge to himself.
Kwanza Osajyefo and the team behind BLACK also shared an exclusive Spotify playlist with us that helped to inspire the creation of the graphic novel. “Music has always been an outlet for black people,” Osajyefo said. “It made sense to us that BLACK should have its own soundtrack, reflecting the many aspects of the characters and the story itself. The richness and diversity that comes from black culture is a constant source of inspiration for BLACK.”
You can take a listen below:
Of the exclusive Spotify playlist, Osajyefo had this to say:
“The great thing about Spotify is being able to share music between the creative team behind BLACK. Tim, Jamal, Khary, Sarah, and I come from diverse backgrounds and tastes in music but when we think about the BLACK, the story and the characters, we found ourselves gravitating to some universal tracks, but also a few surprise hits reflecting our various musical perspectives and those in the book. Songs like Kanye West’s ‘Black Skinhead,’ Mos Def’s ‘Mr. Nigga,’ and ‘Blacker the Berry’ by Kendrick Lamar influenced the title of the book. Those songs are unabashed and without innuendo.
BLACK may be science fiction, but it does draw from issues in US culture. I think it’s clear from the book cover alone that like artists such as KRS-ONE, Public Enemy, and N.W.A., BLACK pulls no punches in bluntly confronting issues like police brutality and murder. Our struggle with issues of race isn’t always about physical conflicts, systemic ones are just as detrimental to Black lives, and more pervasive in subtle ways. Sometimes it’s just about the day-to-day of living that is conveyed in the pop and bounce of songs like ‘Get By,’ ‘Changes,’ ‘Know the Ledge,’ ‘Doo Wop,’ and ‘They Say.’
The struggle in life for liberty and happiness is universal. Overcoming the issues that separate us to celebrate what unites us like love, laughter, and fun are what life’s really about. Listening to ‘BBC’ by Jay Z, ‘Smooth Sailin’’ from Leon Bridges, and ‘The Next Episode’ by Dr. Dre and Snoop – here are songs that make you turn the volume up, smile, dance, and enjoy life.
We hope BLACK offers the same level of entertainment and range as this playlist. Perhaps you’ll listen to it when the book comes out at the end of the year. You should also listen to it now, because great music, like great stories, are timeless.
Though it has already more than doubled its Kickstarter goal, there is still a week left in the campaign — which means there’s plenty of time for you to lay claim to a copy for yourself.”
What do you think of BLACK? Will you be supporting the campaign? Let us know in the comments below.