Photo: Michael L. Rivera Avilés
EXCLUSIVE: Listen To Myke Towers Address Racism & Police Brutality On "MICHAEL X"
Myke Towers recognizes that silence is a problem.
"Soy parte del problema, si estos temas no los sacos," he raps in Spanish on "MICHAEL X." Translation: "I'm a part of the problem if I don't bring these issues up."
Towers, of course, is referring to the conversations stemmed from the police killing of George Floyd. As an Afro-Latino born in Puerto Rico who was deeply influenced by hip-hop culture and Black rappers like Jay-Z, who he named his son after, Towers, born Michael Torres, feels the need to support the struggle against police brutality and racism.
"For me, being a Latin artist who has been heavily influenced by Black culture, it is important to show my support and stand in solidarity with the African American community for what is right, what is humane," he told GRAMMY.com in a statement.
He expresses his thoughts and outlines what he feels is his responsibility as an artist with a platform on his track by channeling one of the most influential Black leaders in history. "MICHAEL X"'s powerful visual opens with Malcolm X's speech adressing police brutality in Los Angeles on May 20, 1962.
Dressed in a black-and-white suit, Towers evokes X (at one point standing in front of a podium like X does in his famous 1962 Los Angeles speech), letting go of his usual lifestyle lyrics and trap/reggaeton beat. Instead, he adopts a more serious tone over a traditional hip-hop sound that takes him back to his roots.
"I wrote this song to really get so much I had inside me, out. I needed to say what you hear. I needed the world to hear my point of view as an Afro-Latino," he said.
And so he does, using lyrics to reference slavery, immigration, 9/11, politics—from police brutality to Puerto Rico's controversial Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced—Black pop culture, including Wakanda, home of Black comic book hero Black Panther, and Kobe Bryant. In one verse, Towers also references Latin pop culture, using witty lyricism to reference fellow Puerto Rican rapper Rene Pérez Joglar, a.k.a Residente.
Beyond sharing his perspective, Towers uses "MICHAEL X" to uplift Black people and share his pride. "I like seeing how the beautiful faces of my Black people cheer up," he raps in a verse.
The powerful song began as just thoughts but quickly became something more. "At first, my intention was really penning down some thoughts and sentiments but then the lyrics just began flowing and before I knew it, it was a full song," he said. "I knew I had to record it. It was an intense and emotional moment you know?"
The rapper feels Floyd's death, who he mentions in the song, is a catalyst for change. "While unfortunate, the death George Floyd woke the world up. It is shaking its core," he said. "I feel in life everything is timed out and aligns how it is meant to be aligned, and us being in quarantine has really made us open our eyes."
Towers feels strongly about being a part of a generation that enacts change.
"The death of George Floyd has impacted the world very deeply," he said. "No man, woman or child should have to worry about being treated unjustly just because of the color of their skin. As a younger generation, it is our responsibility to TAKE part and BE part of the change."
Hear the full song above.