Oklahoma City rapper Jabee Williams will unveil an art installation at 9 p.m. June 26 to coincide with the release of his new album.
“Glad I Got You,” is a piece Williams, and artists he has worked with in the past, collaborated on in lieu of an album release show. The unveiling will be hosted in an empty space in Oklahoma City at 1734 NE 23 St.
Initially, Williams said not having a live show was difficult, as he enjoys sharing new music with his supporters in-person. Now, however, he said he is excited for people to view the installation, which he said emphasizes how his songs are up to the listener’s interpretation.
“I think (the installation) was really just … a way to bring out those interpretations in different ways while also having an event (and) space where people can experience the album without actually having to go to a show.”
“The World Is So Fragile and Cruel I’m Glad I Got You,” is an album three years in the making. Williams said the album’s content was inspired by self-reflections on people from his past and present.
“I look back over my life and … all of the people (in it) — the good, the bad and the ugly — really made me into who I am,” Williams said. “I am glad I have them … (because) had it not been for those people or those situations, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
For Williams, one of those people is Bruce Fisher, the son of Oklahoma civil rights activist Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, the first Black woman to attend OU’s school of law. Williams said Bruce is a friend of his and being around him has inspired much of what he writes about — especially as he honors famous Black figures with his music.
“One of the biggest ways (I hope to honor) these figures is by mentioning them in some capacity,” Williams said. “It’s important to incorporate their names and to learn (how) to apply what they have taught us to where we are today.”
With President Donald Trump’s recent decision to rally in Tulsa on June 20 — the weekend of Juneteenth and the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre — Williams said “where we are today” is a place of injustice. Williams said he sees this announcement as a planned attempt by the president to harass the Black community.
“To bring the crowd to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as we’re gearing up for the centennial for the hundredth year of the massacre on Black Wall Street is deliberate,” Williams said. “I think it was a way (for him) to prove a point and, in a lot of ways, trying to dance on their graves and call checkmate on Black people.”
Williams said he hopes his new album will promote the uncomfortable-but-necessary conversations people should be addressing.
“A lot of what we’re seeing today I didn’t know was going to happen,” Williams said. “But I feel like a lot of things that are happening today are ones I do address in my music. So, hopefully, people can be empowered by it, and hopefully … some people will hear it and will have to confront who they are and look at themselves in the mirror.”
Throughout history, Williams said it has been musicians who write and record people’s stories. Amidst a pandemic and on the eve of a civil rights revolution, Williams said people can still find unity in music.
“Music is like food,” Williams said. “Regardless of your background, faith (or) race … when it comes to food and nourishment, we can all sit down and we like to eat. I think that music is similar to that as … music brings people together. … That's what we should be doing with our music, is trying to bring people together and force people to appreciate each other and their differences.”