On May 25, 2020 George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street. Two other officers further restrained Floyd and a fourth officer prevented onlookers from intervening. During the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse. Officers made no attempt to revive him, and Chauvin’s knee remained on Floyd’s neck even as emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him. That’s not my interpretation, that’s a word for word Wikipedia description of the facts.
Sadly George Floyd is just one name in a list that includes those of Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Laquan McDonald, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Antonio Martin, and Jerame Reid, among others.
It seriously raises the question of what has changed in America, since the privateer, The White Lion, brought 20 African slaves ashore in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. But I think we already know the answer to that.
On May 25, 2020 – the same day that George Floyd was killed – Sargeant Q released his single “Cry, Pt.1”, which describes his exasperation with racism and the dire consequences thereof. “I just wanna cry. I don’t wanna have to die,” sings Sargeant Q, fully aware that the time for real change is long overdue. The rapper clearly knows his duty to educate and inspire the public.
Sargeant Q is a true observer when the situation calls for it, which it most often does in this raging climate, where a myriad of injustices face African-Americans daily. “Cry, Pt.1” is loud, nuanced, emotional, and about as vibrant as rap can be.
It’s a stunning turn from Sargeant Q, rapping with resilient strength and commitment, as a mouthpiece for change. Sargeant Q exudes the value of black existence – the hope, the despair, the fury, the pride and everything in between.
Sargeant Q works his way across the register of his impossibly elastic voice, and blazes through double-time flows and falsetto styled melodic hooks, like they’re nothing. But just as impressive as all that is that he knows how to use his technical gifts, adjusting his cadence in order to get the utmost out of every line he delivers.
There will probably be plenty of important political and social rap coming in the near future, but it is unlikely that much of it will be as timely, or match the candid cohesion and clarity of Sargeant Q’s vision.
MORE ABOUT: Quentin James also known as Sargeant Q or SGT Q was born to a Native American mother and a father of Creole descent. Raised in Providence Rhode Island, he relocated to Largo, Maryland in 2000, where he joined a go-go band called Black Passion and had his musical passion ignited. In 2009 he signed to the New York label Capital Hustlers, who had offices all over the world. This led to him performing at open mics and special venues alongside popular artists such as Fat Trel and Logic.
He continued to build his brand, performing in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Since 2017 Quentin’s music has been aired on multiple radio stations as he released two mixtapes that year, entitled “Black Friday” and “Black Friday part 2”. He also released music with his younger brother, who was based out of New England. Sargeant Q is currently preparing a new album project with the engineer Beau Vallis.