“I Can’t Explain” is a song from Capital Steez, a deceased rapper, and poet from Flatbush, Brooklyn. The song was composed with a sad feeling as a harmonica riff, sampled from Stevie Wonder’s “How Can You Believe” over a repetitive boom-bap beat and baseline. The rapper then begins his verse. His low and raspy voice exudes sorrow as he flows over the beat and sings the chorus “today, I got a feeling like none before and I guess I can’t explain”. And he raps about the hard truths about his life such as coming from section 8 housing, having a failing rap career, and disappointing his mother.
Photo by Rodolfo Diaz
I imagine that while writing and composing this song Steez was experiencing deep sadness. Overall, the song gives off an unprecedented feeling of hopelessness and sorrow. Everything about it from the moderately slow tempo beat, the choice of instrumentation (the piano, harmonica, and the bass guitar which are closely associated with the “blues”), and his voice that is nearly cracking in between his depressing lines. The pain this rapper went through while writing this must have been immense.
Upon further research, this audio was recorded at Steez’s last concert before he committed suicide that same month. The day before Christmas eve, December 23, 2012, Courtney “Jamal” Dewar Jr. jumped from the rooftop of the Cinematic Music Group headquarters in Manhattan. His dead body was found the next morning. He tweeted “THE END” at 11:59 pm that day. The rapper was reportedly schizophrenic and depressed leading up to his death and he wasn’t getting any help because he thought the world was against him. He felt as if his rap career wasn’t getting the attention he deserved and his best friend, rapper Joey Bada$$, was gaining publicity without Jamal due to their manager who favored Joey. The song “I Can’t Explain” song was Steez’s cry of anguish in his depression. It was a death note for Capital Steez.
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