In today’s age, technology has flooded our lives with content. Caught in the mire are modern musicians who champion an art form that’s more widely distributed than any other throughout human history. And we, more often than not, overlook the music created by unfamiliar faces because it’s challenging. We’d rather have an easy listen, a known quantity to skim through while we think about something else.
Hearing is easy, but listening is difficult. Welcome to “Why We Like It”, where we rebuke the trends in favor of thoughtful analysis and underknown sounds.
“Free” — Dayon Greene
How We Found It
Dayon Greene carefully picked the release date for “Free.” It’s no coincidence that the single was released last week on Juneteenth, though it’s been waiting in our SubmitHub inbox a bit longer. He’s a 26-year-old singer, rapper, and drummer who was born with a strong sense of rhythm and a stronger sense of justice. For Dayon, personal liberty goes hand in hand with love. On Juneteenth 155-years-ago the chains of slavery were finally broken in the United States and when love wins out again and breaks the chains of oppression I’ll be thinking of artists like Dayon on that day.
Why We Like It
Freedom is something that we feel like we understand. Or at least we believe we do. Growing up in America our children are taught that we’re the freest people in the world. If you’re white and well-off it’s unlikely your life experience will challenge that teaching and so it sinks in as a fact. We’re free over here, and they’re not free over there. It’s one or the other. But if you’re poor, an immigrant, or a member of a minority population, life experience and generational trauma contradicts that mantra. Freedom isn’t a guarantee. It’s not something you just accept because someone told you that you’re free. You have to think about what it looks like, what it feels like, and what it sounds like, because the masquerade paraded in front of you is certainly not freedom — no matter how much the showmen insist that it is. “Free” is Dayon Greene’s expression of how he has defined freedom for himself.
In this instance, freedom sounds like upbeat drums, plucking guitar strings, slapping bass, and the joy-filled bleating of a trumpet, of course. Just as Dayon leaves the mic to bounce around an open field in the music video, the track’s instrumentation is transitional. It carries the kind of energy that makes a group of bored friends killing time on a couch say “fuck it man, let’s go do something.”
Lyrically there are two ways Dayon explores freedom. Externally he wants freedom from the oppression of his people through financial inequality and police brutality. “Free as no debt, no deposit / Free as police when they drop shit.” I found it interesting that he uses police getting away with crimes as a gauge for the freedom that he wants, but all the examples he provides are representations of freedom he’s seen but doesn’t have. He imagines the relief from stress that comes with access to money so he wishes for freedom from debt. With the police, in his life experience he’s either witnessed first hand or through the countless examples that officers are able to act untouchable because a system will support their actions no matter what. It’s that feeling of being untouchable that looks like freedom to him.
While the first half of the song mainly addresses the ways that Dayon sees freedom in other people he comes to a realization in the second half that he has internal freedom in his self expression. “I’m finally free / I finally found me / I cannot believe / I stayed low now my head in the breeze.” This realization is a hopeful one. By embracing the opportunity to express himself freely he’s found more love for himself.
In our interview Dayon told me that freedom can’t exist without love and I felt that. If everyone in the world were able to project the love they feel for themselves onto their neighbors then we would be looking at a much different world. When that day comes maybe the life experiences of people like Dayon will more likely line up with the mantra that we’re free. Freedom won’t be an abstract thing to grasp at with reaching hands if it’s something we all experience.
From Dayon Greene
The world spins because of ideas. Without internal freedom our creativity is blocked. It’s so important for people to be in spaces that encourage individuality. Our uniqueness makes life what it is. One of my favorite Pharrell songs is “Lost Queen”. In the song he says “I’d rather be a freak then not be unique, cause individuality makes life better” and that’s so real to me.” – Dayon Greene for CentralSauce (2020)
More From Dayon Greene
More to Discover
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