In the year-by-year pantheon of culture, we have collectively heard repeatedly over the last few years how each was respectively poor for different reasons for different people; how things needed to be made great again, or how things may have never been so great to begin with. On Jason Graham's latest album under the MOsley WOtta moniker, the rapper/artist doesn't want to scapegoat time any longer. Graham leaves the door open for interpretation on the eight-track album, "It's Not The Year, It's You."
"Starting with 2020, I began to realize that there were dates that were very significant for us as human beings," Graham tells the Source. "2020 was such a year for us. It changed so much drastically. Then 2021 came, and the same issues were still there or intensified in some cases. Then 2022, and on and on and on. At some point it was less about these numbers that became accursed—that it's not the fault of the year. It invites a question around, 'what is my individual contribution to the community?' and 'what is my community's contribution to me?'"
Graham tasked himself with finding the truths of human nature that we all face.
"The album is doing a lot to lean into places of paradox where you usually find truth. To be alive is to die, to die is to live, those kinds of things. It's an invitation to investigate the variety of ecosystems we are in a relationship with."
Running eight tracks in 22 minutes, Graham tackles daunting plots. The album's opener is a personal essay on dealing with mental health titled, "Jason's Cut," where we get a deeper look into the mind of MoWo. "Fresh Water Bottle" is a commentary on the faulty structure of government and protest culture. On "Where I'm From," Graham is reckoning with looks and prejudice from others while being Black in America and how the idea of isolation is scary for everybody.
"I think we do ourselves a disservice if we look at our labels as if they're fixed at all times. At the end of the day your blood type and Social Security Number doesn't really explain who you are," says Graham of the passionate "Where I'm From."
"We are all natives to some place and we are all immigrants from some place. I look at it like, your brothers and sisters were here before you, but there was something there before them, too. We are transient species that move from one place to another. The reality of folks who have generationally not even been here for a full two centuries, who are looking at you, as if you are the alien. Many of us are no longer just from one straight line bloodline."
With the help of Jesse Locke of Unlocked Films and producer/musician Colten Tyler Williams, "It's Not The Year, It's You" becomes a visual and communal experience. Using cell by cell animations, original and sourced footage, the backdrop to touring this album will be special and unique every night with its changing pieces of light, instrumentation and the conversation that comes during and after the show.
MOsley WOtta hosts two nights of the experience on March 24 and 25.
"This isn't a place to come at and get yelled at. This isn't just, 'white folks sit down and listen how you f*cked up.' I don't see the point in that anymore. We're going through all of this so we don't have to focus on us so much. We're still caught up on like, identity prejudice. We've got to get through this as opposed to getting over it."
Mosley Wotta + Unlocked Films
Fri., March 25 & Sat., March 26, 7-11pm
Open Space Event Studios
220 NE Lafayette Ave., Bend