Malcolm London may be one of the busiest people in Chicago, but he certainly makes it look easy. The rapper, poet, activist, and educator released Opia last year, a record that featured everyone from Jamila Woods to How To Dress Well while gliding seamlessly between neo-soul, gospel, and trap. After all, London is the guy that Dr. Cornell West called “the Gil Scott-Heron of his generation” and has found himself before the United Nations as part of We Charge Genocide, so there’s little London can’t pull off.
For his new video, which The A.V. Club is premiering below, London worked with director Holiday Kirk to bring “Westside In The Rain” to life. In the video, London shows the joy and positivity of Chicago’s Westside neighborhood, an area that’s routinely dehumanized and painted in the only the broadest strokes. London dedicated the video to fellow Chicago rapper John Walt, who was tragically murdered on February 8. Of his dedication, London said: “In a city like Chicago, you can hear about a random act of violence and know the person who was murdered and the person who killed them.”
Of the video, director Holiday Kirk offered the following:
“When I came to Malcolm London to present him my idea for “Westside In The Rain” I told him I wanted people to see the city as a place where human beings live. Not ’gangbangers,’ or ’crackheads,’ or whatever hideous word used to dehumanize these people but really real human beings. I wanted people to see smiles and dancing and celebration. I wanted to bring my Westside friends to the places that meant the most to them when they were growing up so that through their connection to that place maybe someone watching could feel connected too. I wanted to create a visual that mirrored the title of his album. Opia. I wanted people to feel the ambiguous intensity of looking the Westside in the eye. I wanted them to feel the rain.
This video isn’t about me and I don’t think it’s about Malcolm either. This video is about the Westside. A place that raised him and welcomed me. A place where everybody can dance.”
3/16—House of Vans at Mohawk SXSW—Austin, TX
4/4—Freedom Seder at City Winery—Chicago, IL
4/20—Chop Shop—Chicago, IL
4/23—The Bootleg—St. Louis, MO
4/26—The Bishop—Bloomington, IN
4/29—The Basement—Columbus, OH
4/30—El Club—Detroit, MI
5/5—Flyover Fashion Fest—Iowa City, IA
5/6—7th Street—Minneapolis, MN
5/7—The Frequency—Madison, WI