When asked about what kept his approach to jazz fresh, one of its greatest drummers, Max Roach, replied, “Music mirrors where we should go, have gone and can go.” For Michael LeCour, known proudly to many Houstonians as B L A C K I E (all caps with spaces), his approach is parallel.
“I never look back. Ever,” he muses. “That ain’t my focus. I just make what I want. I like giving people that need a voice a voice, and that’s it.”
Time in and time out, torturous self-examination and societal turmoil advanced B L A C K I E’s art into realms of incomprehension for many who experienced it in person. To be unavoidably sincere, there is no better way to experience art from someone whose talent stares into a perilous void every time he or she takes the stage. With the mike cord wrapped tightly around his fist like a boxer’s handwraps, fists clenched tightly as each blow lands perfectly on the chin, every B L A C K I E performance felt like his last.
“I’m just in a different space,” he remarks when reminded he will perform this weekend at the Day for Night festival on the same bill as innovative composer Philip Glass and current hip-hop luminary Kendrick Lamar. He's not fazed in the least.
“I’ll play anywhere with anybody,” comments B L A C K I E.
Just over ten years ago, the longtime resident of La Porte began assembling his sound surrounded by the endless smoke emanating from the refineries — temples to capitalism’s antipathy toward its seaside surroundings. None of these elements escaped him. The hums and hisses lurk in the shadows of his self-titled EP. The ironic track “Here Comes the Sun” spits fire into what feels like perpetual darkness.
Ten years later, B L A C K I E’s art has evolved right before our eyes. Even musicians who express appreciation for what he does reply with a level of incomprehensibility and surprise. He is a rapper. He is a composer. He is the unfriendly reflection of society’s ills. Now, more than ever, his presence is necessary. Giving a voice to people who need a voice, after all, is a burden and responsibility few willingly take on. For B L A C K I E, it is his calling.
“Game of Life (SAMURAI),” released by Black Blades, is a return to B L A C K I E’s roots. The production mixes the unsettling elements fans of his music have come to know and love while lingering in the backdrop of Houston’s hip hop legendary sound established by the Geto Boys. When asked if he was at a crossroads creatively, B L A C K I E responds in his pithy style:
“I always know what I’m going to do. Always.”
Day for Night exists as another show for B L A C K I E. Unlike other artists, whether it is an undisclosed location in Houston’s Warehouse District or a one-of-a-kind festival, his approach to performing doesn’t vary. However, he is grateful for the opportunity to take part in it, including the festival’s multifaceted approach.
“I want to hang out with HEALTH because I’ve known them for a long time,” B L A C K I E comments. “And I want to see the art installations.”
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With a new album and a U.S. tour on the horizon for 2016, B L A C K I E’s dedication to the grind continues. As for planning something special for his Day for Night performance, he always has something up his sleeve.
“I think I’m going to wear my leather jacket.”
B L A C K I E performs 7:10 p.m. Sunday, December 20 on Day for Night's Blue Stage. See dayfornight.io for details.