“Flowers for the Living,” the latest release from Riders Against the Storm, is a vibrant celebration of Black culture and Black lives.
By Monica Godinez
In “Flowers for the Living,” the latest single from Riders Against the Storms’ upcoming album of the same name, Jonathan “Chaka” Mahone and Ghislaine “Qi Dada” Jean present their dazzling own spin on classic hip hop. The tracks’ modern dance melodies infuse with ’90s rap. Creating a synergy that comes to life in the energetic music video.
This wouldn’t be the first time the dynamic duo has produced a distinct and riveting sound. RAS made their debut in the Austin music scene over a decade ago. Still this single plays to their roots of soul-baring lyrics with up-tempo instrumentals. The dedication to their art and message has grown in momentum with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Amidst the turmoil of 2020, Chaka and Qi Dada went on to create an ode to the power of the Black community. The duo’s intentions were clear, celebrate Black lives now. Set against a sun-filled tea room, the video presented the group living it up. One can observe it in the ambiance, their facial expressions and carefree movements.
The song commences with a lively dance tempo. Vocalist Clarence James sings “Flowers, flowers, flowers,” in an effervescent tone. The spirited melody of “Flowers for the Living” immerses the listener into this vibrant environment. Beckoning the audience to join in. The music video opens with a shot of the group seated with thoughtful expressions. It then transitions to a room immersed in vivid hues of color that radiate on- and off-screen. With a plethora of colors as their backdrop, Black women, men and children animatedly dance to the beat of their own souls. Baring smiles that emanate pure joy.
RAS’ effortlessly and transcendently vocalizes meaningful messages throughout the song’s duration. “No flowers on my grave cuz I’ll never die,” Chaka sings. With these words he creates a sense of a glorious life that will continue forever. “Live ya life afraid to die a million times,” he sings, his tone more serious. The words seemingly remind listeners to not live fearfully.
The song’s lyrics immerse its audience in an experience of love, celebration and excellence. “I’m Prime Amazon, so you know I deliver,” Qi Dada sings later in the song. She pays tribute to everything the BIPOC community has contributed to society. Much of today’s culture is embedded with Black culture. Qi Dada carries on addressing the experiences Black individuals face. “We’re done with the sounds of the guns in the crowd,” she sings. With this statement she vocalizes the feelings of the Black community plainly. They will no longer be idle, especially not when it concerns their livelihoods.
Strong lyricism couples with the abundance of Black culture displayed. Waist beads, afros, braids, attire encourage Black individuals to bask in the glory of their culture.
While, I am not a part of the BIPOC community, I am a woman of color who understands the importance of amplifying Black voices and stories. Qi Dada and Chaka do that perfectly in “Flowers for the Living.”
The song and video capture the emotions and feelings BIPOC constantly undergo. They offer much to contemplate. “Flowers…” exudes sentiments of recognition, honoring and uplifting Black people. All the vibrant melodies graciously mesh into one harmonious song. A song that tells an important story that resonates for all to hear.
Flowers for the Living is set for release on Feb. 22.