The topic of systemic racism has become a common theme in music in the wake of all that has happened this year, but rarely do you hear it done with such urgency and bluntness as with singer Cocoa Sarai's new single "Strange Fame". From the very start, the captain of the EarnYoSleep art collective lays it all on the line, stirring listeners' souls with the line "I gave all I've got to give till there's nothing left.."
While the on-the-rise Grammy winner (having worked with both Dr. Dre and Anderson.Paak) is known for packing a powerful voice in her petite frame, she uses her gifts especially well on "Strange Fame". She conveys fear and pain throughout the first half of this soulfully moving piece, even injecting the sounds of herself struggling to breathe as she sings about pleading for her life. It's a notable touch that adds even more weight to the stripped and raw performance. The final verse of the piece feels especially impactful as it finds our heroine speaking to us from the afterlife - injecting passion and fury in her words as she comes to grips with all that has befallen her while also charging those who are still alive to get up and fight for real and lasting change.
Working alongside director Kai Martinez, Sarai also pours out her heart and soul in front of the camera as she cast herself in the role of the song's protagonist. Unsurprisingly, her performance conveys a legion of emotions as she goes from watching the world fall into chaos all around her to reclaiming her power and peace amongst those who have died before her. It's very moving stuff that comes from a very personal place for the singer as her little brother was assaulted by police back in June of this year. "...it was the most traumatic experience because I'm watching the video for over three minutes just praying that he's alive at the end." Holding herself to the same standard that she is asking of her audience and the world, Cocoa Sarai and her EarnYoSleep team have put together the site StrangeFame.com where visitors will find numerous ways that they can help in the fight for social justice. "This is not just another protest song" exclaims the young creative, "it's a call to action."
Listen. Fighting for the levels of social change that so many of us are striving for is HARD work. Over time, it can be frustrating and dispiriting. But regardless of what you're doing to help in the fight - be it protesting in the street or working to affect change within the innumerable systems that hold this country together - do your best to keep that fire alive. Cause this is our time now, and we can't let the victims down.
You can listen to "Strange Fame" now, courtesy of EarnYoSleep Music/One Up Entertainment, on all streaming services.