Written by Imani Wj Wright
If you scroll through Kaelin Ellis' Instagram, it becomes abundantly clear that this guy is a musical phenom. His abilities on the Keys, Drums, and Bass seem effortless. (@kaelinellis)
This piece hits hard, and there are metaphors all over the place. What else would you expect when working with an artist like Lupe Fiasco? "White kid at the front, let me go first cause I was Black. Said it was only right. He was used to having head starts his entire life." Lupe brilliantly shares anecdotes of standing in line for sneakers and facets of sneaker culture, comparing it to the longstanding social injustice in the United States.
Though, it doesn't stop there with Lupe. Fashion mogul & DJ, Virgil Abloh, describes the creation of a running shoe, and makes it synonymous with being Black in America. In a spine-chilling manner, Virgil becomes increasingly specific and references the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year-old African-American male, who while jogging in Georgia, was murdered by two white men. Virgil eventually refers to these "shoes" as the Air Arbery's.
The soundscape in which Lupe and Virgil found themselves speaking on was succinctly curated/created by Kaelin Ellis. The simple, but melodious tone provided makes this track undeniable.
Ellis told SwanoDown:
"The emotions I intended to extract were that of a deep connection to feel the music. Shoes sonically was inspired by 'We Fall Down' by Donnie McClurkin when I made it initially. It tied in together when Lupe added the lyric 'We fall down, but we get back up, pick Pac up, pick Nip up.' My intention was to make the listener feel the beat."
With all three artists on this composition being ultra-creatives, we asked Kaelin to speak on the process.
"I usually set up a canvas or an idea and send it and bounce ideas back and forth with each other. As the process goes on, I try to fine tune the music with adjusting or adding elements to better the song..."
Lupe, Kaelin, and Virigil give us a piece that surpasses the scope of music. Listen closely: