The new video for Duval hip-hop standout Jeremy Ryan’s “Talkin’” opens with a tight shot on the artist’s countenance, Ryan looking fairly dispassionate as the camera pulls back to reveal he’s one of several dressed in tattered rags and tied together in a slave gang. It’s a jarring twist to be sure. And a fitting visual (directed by Myles Dante, whose other credits include LPT’s “Afinio”) to a song in which the artist seeks not only to address the country’s ongoing reckoning with its history of racial injustice, but also to wrestle with his own pessimism as to whether remedies exist; or in Ryan’s words if, “we’re just talkin’.”
Sonically, “Talkin’” finds its footing on a meditative and understated chord progression, but a loose and angsty drum beat roils the waters underneath the oily glass of Ryan’s casual flow and sultry chorus vocals. Ryan seems eager to chart his own hero’s journey through hip-hop, as he namechecks various victors, “vultures,” and villains (fictional and real)—Spiderman, Dr. Robert Neville, Oprah, Trump—even as he’s dragged along in the video by a slave driver, who in the clip’s second act appears as a uniformed police officer.
As heavy handed as the song’s visual treatment may seem, it’s grounded in historical accuracy, as some of this country’s primary policing institutions were rooted in the slave patrols of the early 18th Century. In the current political climate, however, there’s seemingly no appetite for anything more than “just talkin’” about our ghastly past (and few who possess the stomach to even listen). No doubt, though, with “Talkin’” Ryan makes a statement and places himself squarely among Duval’s current vanguard of young, progressive hop-hop artists.