Woollim’s hip hop producer / DJ duo Rphabet, pronounced just like Alphabet, have released Black Suit featuring BrandNew Music’s San E.
Rphabet are Holmes/Bee and Mr.Rupin/Razer, and have produced a multitude of tracks for other artists, more recent examples being Tasty’s debut album. Bee also collaborates as a vocalist from time to time, more than once he’s worked with San E and with the likes of M.I.B’s 5zic.
Black Suit is incredibly clever both in lyrics and visual, including nods to recent work by San and Rphabet, and containing much food for thought.
We start with an image of San wearing a shirt with a large cross on the back, and here start the religious references.
Though before I get into the religious messages, zoom out a little and he’s also wearing a RLVSKA snapback. This is a snapback that Bee can also be seen wearing in his Twitter display picture, and is a reference to Rlaska. Rlaska’s art director is Black Suit’s director Keekanz. Rphabet’s Bee is responsible for some exclusive Rlaska music mixes.
Back to the religion we go. Throughout the visual we see images of San E with his eyes removed, whited out, and demon like. There is also a prominent visual of wings bursting from the rapper’s back as if he is an angel.
This is a visual representation of the lyrics
I’m devil in heaven, good battling evil
Like even in the Garden of Eden
Much of the lyrics continue in very clever ways, and I’ll continue to discuss them, but they’re much about how San E is seemingly a contradiction to expectation, and this is the reason he faces the critique he does.
The reference to the Garden of Eden isn’t the only religious lyrical reference. San E also references God cutting short his life for crossing the line with his lyrics, his rapping being demon-like, being connected with the holy trinity, and maybe most importantly says when he creates things religion bothers him too much.
He then proceeds to ask for God’s forgiveness, because if he has a curse and not talent, he lost to the devil.
A much talked about lyric is the reference to his skin colour. Contrary to most quotes he does not say ‘My skin yellow but blacker than yours‘. The quote is
My skin yellow but soul blacker than yours,
Madder than yours
Attack wack rappers left jaws
This is another demon-within reference, and a clever lyrical hit at the rappers that his skills can defeat.
As San E declares himself the evil devil with his back suit he mirrors the cross from the beginning, this time with his body. He is sacrificing himself to his fate.
San E’s ‘black suit’ is his lyrical skill. He says:
My language is like Da Vinci
He knows that he can create art with his words, but also knows that with it comes critique, something he is more than accustomed to. He raps about it in this track, and it’s a topic in his BrandNew Music debut Rap Circus.
Speaking of Rap Circus, a great reference to this track is the use of the painted skeletal mask.
In Rap Circus we saw the likes of clowns and the famous Japanese Kabuki warriors, particularly the iconic villain mask.
Just like in Rap Circus, where he was a rap villain, in Black Suit we see San E exploring the idea that he is a rap demon despite the artistry he has.
When San E says
I’m not here to entertain you
I’m here to educate you
he certainly isn’t joking. There is so much to take in within Black Suit I won’t have covered everything you can find here, and I’d certainly recommend you watch it a couple of times. Loenent have English captions if you want a translate too, just to really see how clever this is!