Often times in life, the hardest lessons to learn are the ones that lead to the greatest amount of personal growth and expansion. And, of course, it's always best to learn first hand, through experience, rather than through second hand story telling. Let's be honest, someone can drop knowledge on you time and time again but we, as humans, have a tendency to ignore that wisdom unless the Universe hits us with some personal experience.
Regardless, on "Your Hands", Raz Simone takes it upon himself to share his experience with anyone willing to listen - not necessarily to benefit the listener, but to put into perspective his D.T.A. (don't trust anyone) mentality.
Shortly after the release of "Your Hands", Raz tweeted the following:
"I genuinely don't expect a thing from another person but betrayal. I still keep hope and love for everyone tho. More and more from afar."
While this may come across as a negative, pessimistic attitude, Simone utilizes his keen lyrical ability and the cinematic visual to paint a vivid picture of why he so readily expects betrayal. And, in doing so, Raz showcases how his experiences have only allowed him to grow stronger in the process.
"Your Hands" kicks off with Simone addressing what has been an ongoing theme with his music - the dichotomy of "real" and "fake". Although the "real hip-hop" debate is a played out and tired conversation, Simone is - and has been - using his platform to create a dialogue on the difference between those who are authentic and those who are masked by illusion. This is not in regards to their music or lyrical ability, but rather in the way they present themselves.
For as long as I've been listening, Raz Simone has been releasing the vast majority of his music for free. So, it should be fairly clear by now that Raz's income is coming from somewhere other than the distribution of his music catalogue. Without making assumptions, one is fully capable of listening to Simone's music and picking up on clues as to what "extracurricular" activities Raz has partaken, or currently partakes, in. However, unlike a number of artists who glorify gang-related or various illegal activities, Raz is careful to keep his representation very real.
On "Your Hands", Simone is straight forward enough to reveal that he's plenty wealthy already - he doesn't need to sell drugs or anything/anyone else anymore. He's not doing whatever he may be doing so he can drive an expensive car or wear flashy jewelry. Raz Simone is staying involved with a certain lifestyle because he's good at it...and since he's so good at it, it allows his people to feed their families. Were he to make the decision to pull out of the game, Simone feels as though he'd be taking away his family's ability to provide for their own families.
Simone doesn't flaunt what he does. He may wear his chains and rings, but Raz isn't flashy. The Black Umbrella founder touches on certain topics because those topics pertain to the actual life he's living, unlike all the "Lil" rappers who glorify a life they don't live in order to uphold a particular image in the eyes of the public.
God-given strength is what my name mean,
Even if they cage me, they could never begin to contain me
Throughout "Your Hands", Raz reveals how his brother - presumably an associate, rather than through blood relations - and his girl both turned on him. Even though he was willing to go to war for these people, they ended up stabbing him in his back. A record like this showcases the relatable nature of Simone's music - while we might not all be in the streets, it's safe to say the majority of listeners have been betrayed by someone they held close to their hearts.
Instead of allowing this betrayal to set him back or defeat him, Simone finds motivation and a strengthened ability to look within for all that he needs. Through the betrayal of those once close to him, Raz was taught to always be there for himself first and foremost. In the end, the only way you can ever be there for another person is if you first have yourself. This isn't selfish - as noted, Simone still takes risks in order to keep food on the plates of his people - it's simply a reality that finds it's foundation in personal responsibility and unconditional self-love.
Recognizing the necessity of loving some people from a distance is such a vital aspect of discovering one's personal wholeness. Not every individual deserves your time or your energy, especially in a hands on manner. Having the discernment to determine who is worth your time and who is not is a gift that should not be taken lightly - it not only has the potential to protect you from betrayal, it also serves to protect your energy on a vibrational level.
The overall sound and vibe of "Your Hands" reminds me of the music Raz was creating for projects like Solomon Samuel Simone and Cognitive Dissonance. For lack of a better description, Simone's lyrics and his delivery are very poetic in nature. While "Jose", for example, has that rugged, hip-hop vibe, "Your Hands" comes off with a softer approach.
As always, Raz calls upon Black Umbrella's Jacob Hill for the directing, shooting and editing of the video. Alongside Simone's hands-on approach, Hill is able to capture a dark and gloomy vibe that syncs up with the tone of Simone's delivery and Antwon Vinson's production. I've noted before how Simone's releases highlight how important the aspect of teamwork is for Black Umbrella, as each element of the final product goes hand in hand, working in unison to create a cohesive piece of artistic commentary.
Aside from Simone's emotionally driven delivery, the "Your Hands" video also portrays an individual literally getting stabbed in the back by his "homie". As Raz drops lyrics regarding his personal experience, the video puts on display how suddenly someone can turn on you, without a moments notice going from laughter and smiling to a knife in your back.
What really stood out to be about the visual representation of "Your Hands" was the young lady who, seemingly out of goodwill and love, comes to the aid of the man who had been stabbed.
At first glance, my takeaway was once someone stabs you in the back it becomes harder to trust another person - this is why the man was pushing her away, despite her efforts to help him. Due to ego and a failure to understand or respect the individualized processes we all go through, people will take your process personal. Without taking into account what you may have previously experienced, they succumb to their emotions and end up stabbing you in the back, as the lady did to the man in "Your Hands".
Then, after watching the video a few more times, I noticed how the female took the knife out originally and then, very strategically, she placed the knife in her purse. What I failed to realize upon first glance was this woman had every intention of stabbing the man in his back right from the jump - she was just waiting for the moment when he was no longer of service to her.
And, whether fortunately or unfortunately, this is usually how betrayal works. We allow people to get close to us, out of love or out of attachment, and we blindly let them take advantage of our open hearts until they decide it's to their advantage to, as the video shows, stab us in the back.
I'm saying, man...this Black Umbrella family is on a whole different level when it comes to using every aspect of their art to tell a complete, layered story.
By the end of "Your Hands", thanks to the visual experience and Raz's poetic lyrics, one has a much deeper understanding of why his D.T.A. outlook is far from cynical.
Hit play on "Your Hands" below.