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Kemba's Harrowing Take On 'Greed'

Greed is as old as the earth itself, but that doesn't make Kemba's song on the topic any less harrowing or powerful. Kemba's broody baritone cuts through producer Frank Drake's rumbling, scratchy backdrop as the Bronx lyricist spits pensive rhymes about capitalism's winners and losers. Pastors, police, and media pundits all share the blame in Kemba's eyes: "My niggas stuck, like Siamese twins / Caught in between a cold world and a box they was in / You would think we was drug lords if you watch CNN / Where the hood get the drugs from, please remind me again?" he pointedly asks in the second verse of "Greed." The music video directed by No Idea's Original captures the same vibe, as Kemba rhymes in front of a desolate black background, the image of his lanky frame flashing between dimly-lit red and grayscale.

"I wanted to capture the energy of desperation, particularly how it feels for me, people like me and my homies," Kemba, 26, tells NPR. "You see people that have an abundance in general, money and all the nice things. How much of that do you need? How much is that going to make you happy while we're starving?"

The song is a highlight from Negus, Kemba's sobering self-released 2016 album that has him extolling pro-black ideology while reflecting on racism and police brutality. (Negus is his first album as Kemba; he previously released two other albums under the moniker YC The Cynic.) After memorable freestyles onstage with Kendrick Lamar and on air at New York's Hot 97 in December, Kemba is hitting the road this month. His hometown performance at SOB's on Thursday, April 20 will be followed by Pigeons and Planes' nine-city No Ceilings Tour with Boogie, Kaiydo and Michael Christmas.

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