The Sh8peshifter

Zakiya Harris, an Oakland based activist, educator, and musician will soon be putting out new music under her musical persona, The Sha8peshifter. She’s announced an upcoming EP, After Darkness, and just released a video for “ABRACADABRAKAAFRIKA.”

The song draws inspiration from “the death of Sandra Bland, and

[is] an ode to little black girls like my 12-year-old daughter,” Harris says. “I wanted her and others like her to see Black Women represented as the highest expression of life, which is God.”

Harris is the co-founder of many environmental and cultural organizations in addition to her music ventures. Hack The Hood is one of the projects she’s currently involved in, a program that trains people of color in the tech and entrepreneurial fields. Hack The Hood helps to increase her students’ chances of finding adaptable careers in the growing Silicon Valley.

Much like her career helping youth, her music can surely energize a crowd, and a number of the rhymes she spits on “ABRACADABRAKAAFRIKA” evoke deep meaning. One that stands out is “Some of us know our names, everybody wasn’t a slave.” The line may be a callback to Malcolm X‘s description of his birth surname as one that “the white slave master had imposed upon [his] paternal forebears.”

In the video, Harris is surrounded by friends wearing all white. Many of the girls in her video are wearing shirts that read “Black Woman is God.” Harris engages the audience to have all eyes on her with bouncing electronic beats. Her work to incorporate African culture into her rhymes is reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s work.

The video is a mesmerizing visual work, with quick flashes of different elements and settings from Lower Bottoms Oakland. Along with the lyrics, the video conveys messages of Black unity and empowerment.

The song is definitely a banger with artistic flair, and I’m excited to see what else The Sh8peshifter can serve up on After Darkness, coming out later this spring.