Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark, New Jersey, known primarily as an educator, author and politician, has a powerful message to deliver on the cusp of our national election. The Mayor, who uses spoken word and music as a form of expression, recently collaborated with world renowned Grammy award winning producer Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis to produce a five track spoken word EP album entitled “What We Want”. The title track and video from the EP were launched this summer and the video has already received more than 1,000,000 views across the web with features on Rolling Stone, All Hip Hop, The Source, The ESPN ESPY Awards, and has been highlighted by influencers including Michael B Jordan.
“What We Want Part 2”, the next chapter in this story, adds triple threat Luke James as a creative collaborator. “What We Want Part 2”, is a riveting, rhythmic, thought provoking message that artfully addresses systemic oppression and social injustices.
According to Mayor Ras Baraka. “Art is everything. It is perspective, it is creativity , imagination, and it is hope. Art conveys ideas and drives intention. Everything I do is grounded in art and poetic expression. George Floyds death affected me first as a Black man and as a human being. The fight for our humanity is still not resolved in this country after centuries of struggle. We are still trying to make people see that we are in fact human beings, that we deserve to be afforded the same rights and privileges as other Americans and the right to live to grow and to express our being human unfettered without obstruction, complication, or murder. As a mayor it has become even more complex. I am in charge of the police the agency that has been the wall of white supremacy, and in Newark we are challenging that notion, reconstructing that idea and re-imagining our department through training, diverting funds, partnering with community based anti-violence groups, trauma circles, and community roundtables.”
According to Jerry Wonda ““What We Want” is not just an ordinary song to me. It’s a reflection of our times. With all that’s going on with the global economy, our communities, and Black Lives Matter, this song is a vital reminder of the wants, needs, and reality of the global community. It’s time, and if someone can hear this now and it will move them to vote, that’s great. Your vote is your voice. That’s what’s needed. We need to come together. It’s like what Ras Baraka said, Get Up.”
The video for “What We Want Part 2” was shot earlier this year on the steps of Newark’s historic City Hall.
Listen to the Full What We Want EP
Watch “What We Want Part 2