Andre Altrez | photo by Cheyenne Chapman | courtesy of the artist

This Black history month has been very healing for me. From being surrounded by love and community at the Black Arts Festival, to crying my eyes out after watching Black Panther, it’s been nothing but positive. I haven’t yet had a moment to reflect on and process the bad, mostly because it’s emotionally exhausting to do so and I’m honestly avoiding it. Recently, Philly rapper Andrè Altrez has provided a valuable space for me to confront the trauma and fears I have associated with my experience as a Black American.

Altrez’s side project Ahza Ahza came about as a coping mechanism; a way for him to process his emotions about police brutality in a productive way through his art. Black Power Ambience is an expansive, 24-minute piece that layers emotional, atmospheric soundscapes and frames various clips of important Black figures like Angela Davis, Nina Simone, and James Baldwin sharing validating commentary about the frustrating but also beautiful experience of being a Black person in America.

I appreciate the fact that the track is not completely depressing. There are quotes that will make you laugh, make you smile, and uplift you. The piece ends with positive messages from Nina Simone and Maya Angelou that remind us to not get lost in all the negativity.

Of “Black Power Ambience,” Altrez said “The first step of dealing with pain is to face it head on in its full form, after that the real work begins.” For me, this piece has been the resource I needed to position myself for that work.

Check out “Black Power Ambience” below.