The Theater Alliance virtual world premiere of Psalmayene 24’s hip-hop musical The Blackest Battle begins streaming Saturday, July 31, 2021, and advance screenshots from the production promise a visual knockout beyond anything seen locally since the pandemic. A love story that calls attention to Black-on-Black gun violence, the film is set in the future, when reparations have been made and youth get high on a drug called Hope.
The Blackest Battle is half music video, half graphic-novel-come-to-life, with direction by Ramond O. Caldwell; songs composed by Nick tha 1da; visual art from Wesley Clark, Camilla King, Maliah Stokes, and Rodney “Buck” Herring; photography direction by Kelly Colburn and Dylan Uremovich; and art direction by Jonathan Dahm Robertson.
▲ We’re brought into the graphic novel world by the Ring Master (Kelsey Delemar). She’s our guide to Chief County, and introduces us to the feud between the East and West Side … fueled by two warring rap crews, Lock Crew and Key Enterprises.
▲ The Lock Crew’s Bliss (Gary Perkins), Sgt. Pepper (Bayou Elom), and Ty (Emmanuel Kyei-Baffour) are discuss gun violence. If they can find some success, they won’t have to traffic in guns anymore.
▲ On the Key Enterprises side: Do or Die (Louis Davis) and Bonita (Jade Jones) argue, and Bonita is kicked out of her crew for drug use.
▲ As Key Enterprises sets up for a rent party, Bliss (Gary Perkins) and Dream (Imani Branch) lock eyes for the first time. They’re from opposite sides of the County, but a spark is ignited.
▲ Lock Crew confronts Key Enterprises before the rent party begins.
▲ Their verbal fight escalates, threatening physical violence.
▲ Bliss introduces Dream to the new drug, Hope, and invites her to do it.
▲ We witness the effects of the drug Hope.
▲ Dream and Bliss meet a stranger under the bridge, who gives them some advice.
▲ The ultimate confrontation as to who’s going to win this battle.
The Blackest Battle premieres on July 31, 2021, and will be available for scheduled online streams through the month of August. Tickets (General Admission, $25 – $30; Seniors/Students/Military, $20 – $25; Radical Neighboring, $15) are available online or by calling 202-241-2539.
Special thanks to Theater Alliance Managing Director Jen Clements.