NK: Nicole Kali, #BRU Crew is thrilled that friend and guest Jay Lamal can join our 20th #BRUTalk!

Jay: Helloooo!

NK: Hiii! How are you?

Jay: I'm excited, how about that? I'm excited! I mean, this is like, one of those things that's been such a long time coming.

I've been...I've just been excited to be connected with such great people that are the Black Rockers United (BRU) and you know, just even similar groups!

It's...yeah. It's so dope. It's been great getting to know you and getting to know everybody that's been involved!

NK: I feel the same way! I feel the same way. It's great to be connected and it's definitely the season to—to get together.

You know, solidarity whether it's Kwanzaa or you know, a different holiday or...whatever you celebrate (within reason), it's a nice time!

Jay: I celebrate all of 'em! Whoever's got drinks and food! Nah, I'm just playin' [laughs] Nah.

NK: Hehe, you're so cool, Jay.

Jay: I love it all.

NK: So what has life been like for you lately?

Jay: Okay, so obviously, we've been in this pandemic and I think that the name of the game right now for me is maybe reinvention, and creativity: trying to find ways to be able to make money and survive.

Umm, without the comfort of being able to gig like, every week. I'm one of those musicians that—I guess, I'm pretty diverse.

And I think, like that's my whole gimmick so to speak, you know because I play piano and drums and other instruments! But I'm as easily able to play for a church service or a death metal know, anything in-between!

The last two years, I've been doing a bunch of wedding receptions with a band called Diamond Empire Band.

NK: Cool.

Jay: And this year, of course we started off the year with gigs and then all of a sudden March hit and that was the peak season when things start—when people start to get married!

NK: Awww!

Jay: And of course everything shut down so we've only done, I think, one wedding and then one gig, umm, at Breonna Square. And we'll talk about that later.

And that's all we've done since March, which is like—by this time, we would've done 50 gigs or so—well, maybe not 50 but yeah, maybe close to that!

At least the organization [does] whether I'm on call or not so trying to find ways to reinvent myself. Umm, I would say doing studio work, been doing a lot of...

Let's see what I have been doin': writing music for people, a lot of commission work! Umm, I've gotten back into my social work bag a lil' bit, you know, working with special needs adults and y'know. It's a few things!

So I'm just finding my way to navigate. And I think that one other thing that's been important to me is helping others to also find their way and do things. So I've been trying to support people too, also helping people to find work [laughs]

NK: Yeah! I feel you, that's why I am really proud of you and the opportunity to share this joy and realness and artivism experience. As you know, it's been pretty hard during the pandemic for us personally; for me, it's my elder.

For you, it's the younger generation that you've been grappling with. So how do you feel, I guess, about getting through this pandemic in terms of the Black community?


Jay: Yo, I think that I would say the short answer is, as far as getting through it? I think that finding ways to address our issues as a whole. And I would also say that finding ways to help each other has been key.

Umm, one of the biggest things that 2020 has taught us is that we have a lot of enemies. We have a lot of people that don't care [laughs] about the plight of Black people in this country [U.S., anywhere beyond Africa].

And a lot of people showin' they ass so to speak, more than you know, we have seen in previous years. I mean we've seen it in previous years but I think that this year: people have drawn the line in ways that have, you know...

It's just been either or! So I think Black people have had to also draw that line and we have some Black people that have definitely taken the side of like, Donald Trump or whatever.

And then we have a lot of Black people that I think I've seen this year, that have really taken a big umm, ADOS or Black Lives Matter stand or maybe even some other thing!

But like I said, I think that survival for Black people has definitely been about community, finding ways to do that. Thankfully we have social media.

NK: Yeah!

Jay: And you know, social media has—has been a great way to stay connected, I think of course both of us are friends with a whole lot of people.

And we see a lot of people just supporting each other. One of the things I will say is that it's been really cool to see umm, a bunch of people that have been...that have taken on the role of organizer, so to speak.

And those people, they'll post just giving an example: like, there's a young lady that is—she's 20 and she's about to be kicked out of her apartment. Can you help her out? I've been seeing a bunch of that kind of stuff this year.

Or a transgender person has been kicked out of their home or is homeless for a while, or needs like, their bills or some bills paid, to get some insulin or something. You know, CashApp me.

So I've seen some of that too and it's been really cool because I mean—when you're younger, a teenager and 20, and especially if you're in a situation where you are transgender or something.

NK: Absolutely.

Jay: And you have people that are like, umm, already so against you. You know, just for how you feel or whatever.

NK: Yeah, exactly, who you are.

Jay: You know and seeing people that want to help each other out in those situations. And a lot of it, regardless of how you feel about the situation.

You know, just being like, "Hey, I have resources and if nothing else, here's $10, $5, you know. I want to make sure you're not on the street."

Those kind of things are important! Conversations about CW: abuse and stuff this year have been great this year for young people.

NK: For young people and everyone.

Jay: And also learning about voting whether you do or not. I've seen a lot of people that have just gotten more into politics!

I think that seeing the M4BL situation happen and seeing so many people mobilize with that are young.

And I think that's helped a lot of people to say "Okay. My country whether it be America" and I think the other people we're connected with are like, people in Great Britain and Scotland and stuff, like you know:

"We don't want this foolishness for our countries anymore, so we're gonna do what we can to mobilize!" So all of that!, I think, the way forward.

NK: Black lives matter!

Jay: That's right! [Black power fist] Black lives matter.

NK: Black lives matter.


NK: So rest in peace, Breonna Taylor. And now there's a Breonna Taylor Square.

Jay: Yes, oh my God! So I'll talk about that real quick, I guess. So there's this place called Jefferson Square. And there was a—obviously after everything happened, CW [content warning] Breonna actually died a couple of days after my birthday: March 12.

And after that, like, I just remember because I have a couple of friends that were friends with her. And a couple of people posted stats or whatever.

But it was totally ignored in a lot of ways or swept under the rug because Kendall Walker got arrested, and I think they arrested him for murder and stuff.

And so the word didn't really get out. Like it was just one of those cases where they were just painting him as a criminal and stuff!

And finally, two months later—a little bit over two months later, the truth finally came out. And that sent people into of course a frenzy and the protest, and things.

Jay: And it was so beautiful to see that all over the world but the center of these protests, of course, was [Breonna Square]; in Louisville, there's a courthouse.

Umm, and I guess I would say it's the main courthouse for the city. And there's this nice-sized park that is right in front of the courthouse.

NK: Okay!

Jay: And I promise you: people set up all kind of artwork like, within in the square and just like, flowers and just all kind of things to honor Breonna.

And I think that it was one of the Metro councilpeople [Barbara Sexton-Smith] that renamed the square. It was called Jefferson Square. Forget Jefferson!

NK: Yeah, no Jefferson! No more.

Jay: No! So they renamed it Breonna Square, and a lot of the protesters also called it Injustice Square because like I said, it's right across the street from the courthouse.

And you know of course, in that courthouse there's been a whole lot of cases. I've been there before and there's a lot of cases that go down there.

And a lot of it is just foolishness. So yeah, there have been concerts! I mean you're talking about there is a, a stage area over there so people have been doing concerts and just all kinds of stuff over there!

NK: Wow. How do you feel about that?

Jay: Yo, I think it's—I think it's really dope, honestly because it's actually been like, as many marches as there have been, and there have definitely as far as active marches: 150 consecutive days of marching where it would start like, maybe on 1st Street or like, right before like, 1st Street?

...So the square is actually on 6th Street and so there's an area of town called NewLou which stands for New Louisville. And so the protests would start there but that's probably about nine blocks away from Breonna Square!

So people would start there or they would even start, like downtown. They would start in different locations but the general location everybody would meet up at the end of it all.

...or at the beginning of it all would be Breonna Square or at the waterfront: concerts and just different events just in both of those spots.

After the 150th protest, they moved a lot of memorabilia to you know, a different spot. And I may do a video soon of the spot that it got moved to.

But I think that having that central location was very key in keeping people organized, keeping people mobilized. Even though people aren't as active and stuff due to the winter, I hope that this is just the beginning. I hope that people will keep fighting for that change.

Jay Lamal is on and .

HOME  MEDIA        



We're here!