By Ashley Jones
Almost a week after their album debut, “Fire in Little Africa” sits in between Dr. Dre and DMX at #6 on the iTunes charts for top hip-hop albums. They’re on the rise, similar to Black Wall Street rising out of the ashes on Greenwood.
Their album is based on the legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and most importantly, the way of living that was lost in the flames. Many of the artists within the roughly 60-member hip-hop collective are direct descendants of survivors from the massacre. This album is being recognized for all the blood, sweat and tears that went into it for the past 100 years, and not just the past year when efforts to create the album began.
Jacobi Ryan is a rapper from Lawton, a small military town an hour southwest of Oklahoma City. As one of the artists on the album, he recently performed during FILA’s concert at the Black Wall Street Legacy Fest in Greenwood on Saturday.
The motivation behind the music
“The album is out, you know, and to perform it on the same weekend is something I’m grateful for,” Ryan told The Black Wall Street Times in a phone interview. “I’m still riding the high when I wake up and see the album is number 10 on iTunes,” he added.
Today, the album reached #6. For Jacobi Ryan, the energy and motivations around and behind the album have inspired him so much that he said he’s planning to move to Tulsa in the coming weeks.
Yet, he said the weight of Black Wall Street’s triumph and trauma is a daily reminder that keeps him grounded in his purpose.
“Because there were at least 300 people who were murdered because of the thriving community and because people were jealous about it. So just keeping that in the forefront for me was my main preparation,” Ryan said. “This ain’t about me, this ain’t about us, this is about paying them respects by creating a legacy for the next 100 years to build on top of what they’ve already done.”
The album was released on Saturday, May 28th, a few days before the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and they recently performed the project in full at Legacy Fest.
Throughout the day, the album floated between the top #6 and #7 spots on the iTunes Top 40 Hip Hop Albums chart but remained in the top 10 at the time of publishing, a phenomenal achievement for a group of artists unknown to the world a year ago.
To learn more about FILA’s favorite spots in Tulsa, check out the FILA guide that Root Tulsa wrote.
Ashley Jones is an intern at Oklahoma Watch and freelance journalist for The Black Wall Street Times.