“These here is dark times”: Lawrence Matthews Honors & Unpacks the Black Experience in “Once More & Again (Our Mourning)” ft. Idi X Teco

Lawrence Matthews © Ahmad George
Lawrence Matthews © Ahmad George
The weight of generations (and traumas) past and present hangs heavy in the air on “Once More & Again (Our Mourning)” as Lawrence Matthews and Idi X Teco deliver a breathtaking, soul-stirring reckoning (and celebration) of the Black experience. The third single off Matthews’ forthcoming debut album ‘Between Mortal Reach & Posthumous Grip’ hits hard and leaves a lasting, unimpeachable mark on the ears and heart.
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“Once More & Again (Our Mourning)” – Lawrence Matthews ft. Idi X Teco




Being black made me feel like ain’t nothing else on the other side, so I star gazed and counted numbers ’til I felt something in my insides…

There’s no denying the intensity of Lawrence Matthews’ second single.

The artist formerly known as Don Lifted holds nothing back in “Once More & Again” (ft. Idi X Teco), a breathtaking, soul-stirring reckoning (and celebration) of the Black experience. Unapologetic, uncompromising, and brutally raw, it’s an emotionally charged song of pain and perseverance; of lives lost and found; of beauty lost and found.

The weight of generations past and present, and of traumas past and present, hangs heavy in the air as together, Lawrence Matthews, Maurice Colbert (Idi), and Anteco Tate (Teco) capture, confront, unpack, and channel their Black heritage and Black identities through music that hits hard and leaves a lasting, unimpeachable mark on the ears and heart.

Once More & Again (Our Mourning) - Lawrence Matthews
Once More & Again (Our Mourning) – Lawrence Matthews
Rain down, water bound
Levees
Cracked seams, full flight
Together
Lost stars, false start
To Heaven
We all going, we all flying
Forever

Independently out June 11, 2024, “Once More & Again (Our Mourning)” is Lawrence Matthews’ third song released under his own birth name, and the latest single taken off his forthcoming debut LP Between Mortal Reach & Posthumous Grip (out later this year). The multi-modal Memphis-based alternative / hip-hop artist, who previously released three studio albums under the moniker Don Lifted (his third and final LP, 325i, released in 2021 via Fat Possum Records), has done more than reinvent himself through his new moniker and new music; Lawrence Matthews is a true rebirth.

His first three songs – last May’s “Green Grove (Our Loss),” this past February’s “Limelight Honey,” and now “Once More & Again (Our Mourning),” – find Matthews digging deep into his soul, applying creative samples, head-turning sonics, and shiver-inducing beats to achingly vulnerable, confessional, and candid lyrics that delve into the deepest reaches of his own humanity, causing us, his audience, to pause and step out of our everyday as we absorb and consider everything he’s throwing at us; everything he – and, in the case of this latest single, Memphis-based hip-hop duo Idi X Teco – is so powerfully and profoundly expressing.

Lawrence Matthews © Sam Leathers
Lawrence Matthews © Sam Leathers



“This song visually feels like a funeral procession in New Orleans to me,” Matthews tells Atwood Magazine. “This album is a nod to so many Southern traditions, not just Memphis. It’s also just a song that honors the mountains of lost Black folks here. Generations and generations of enslaved folks, farmers, everyday Black folks that have lived and died on this land for me to be able to walk it. Our artists, teachers and entrepreneurs. Our family and loved ones, folks that lost their lives in race riots and massacres across the South, folks that suffered and passed during Hurricane Katrina and our general passed down traumatic relationship with water since coming to this country.”

“Rain down, water bound, levees, cracked seams, full flight together. Our grandmothers and fathers, deep wells of knowledge and experience that go back to the 1920s and their parents’ stories. This record tries to honor them as well as our lives and my personal journey with faith through the Black experience, as horrific as it can be at times. ‘Being black made me feel like, ain’t nothing else on the other side, so I stargaze and count numbers till I felt something in my insides.'”

“Then speaking to the fear and paranoia I sometimes feel in the city, especially after the death of Young Dolph, who was killed down the street from the gallery I used to manage. ‘They killing out here in daylight, so where you gonna run when the time right, well you gotta shed blood for the limelight, I done have so much that my head light, my feet drag but my Js nice.’ Also ‘I rode around, seeing death, looking left at every stop sign, at night time, and gas pump and clothing lumps, and burnt tires, these here is dark times.‘”

Lawrence Matthews © Sam Leathers
Lawrence Matthews © Sam Leathers



Music like this compels us think critically about ourselves, others, and this world we unequally share.

Music like this breaks the spell, snapping us back to the present and lighting a fire deep inside.

In “Once More & Again (Our Mourning),” Lawrence Matthews demands our attention first through a passionate spoken-word refrain that can’t help but remind us of history’s great orators; the MLKs and Malcolm Xs of generations past.

Maggot Food
And Sky Flown
Devils..
Lost Mine(Mind)
Mane these boys clever
Recognize
That I died for Heaven
Left time
To float around with Brethren…

From there, he splits duties with Idi X Teco; each artist gets his own verse, and each leaves his own stunning imprint as first Teco, then Matthews, then Idi raps his heart out. A dramatic hook, delivered by Matthews, serves as the separation and the glue between the three verses that see three artists, together and separately, processing their individual and collective Blackness:

I feel like I’m channeling spirits of every man in my family making it happen
The will of many in this tiny vessel escaping the chains with rapping
Life hits you fast with instant disasters,
You gotta be ready for that

Sometimes stuff coming back to back
so quick it won’t even let me adapt

I go through the motions,
living my life on the fly

Sometimes it feel death is the truth
and everything else is a lie

The flowers we see are just a disguise
wrapped in deception

The pain of the innocent
covers the laughter of reverends

Preaching a blasphemous heaven,
keeping the balance of master & peasant
I see through the blindfold,
’cause it’s not a blindfold

We just conditioned to voluntarily
keep our eyes closed

They want be doped up in a
straitjacket with my mind gone

Can’t control who the sun shine on
Still dropping gems no rhinestones
I’m a treasure chest sent to bless the globe
hip hop my least interesting goal
We all gone float in the end
so why not be a light and touch some souls?

At least that’s the plan,
what’s the point in increasing my bands?

He who loves the world shall burn in it,
that’s too much heat to withstand
It’s funny how none of the white boys
that kill us commit suicide

They paint pictures, have photoshoots
and then auction off while they funds rise

Being black made me feel like
Ain’t nothing else on the other side
So, I star gazed and counted numbers
Til I felt something in my insides
And road around
Seeing death, looking left at every stop sign
And nighttime and gas pump
And clothing lumps and burnt tires
These here is dark times
Weighed down by these soul ties
Unrequited in my many love lives
Pulling hope from my life guides
Weeping done endured like many nights
They killing here out in day light
So, where we gone run when the time right
Well, you gotta shed blood for the limelight
I done gave so much that my head light
And my feet drag but my Js nice
Nostalgia hurts but these fans like
Our body pulled and our belly knifed
Burnt asunder and our head piked
Every loss is a new life
And a closer link to the other side
I saw my granny in a cardinal flight
And a strong wind and in the moonlight
And a tide pull and a gesundheit
And a whispered voice saying don’t hide…
We all gotta die like a few times
Idi back picking my particles up
Ghost and the goons they not startling us
We seen a lot, who gonna buss
Truth in my lyrics but come from the bluff
Tell me is it I’m not gangsta enough
Mama said I am not patient enough
Feel like a flagrant life hit me too rough
In love with the music but living in lust
Knock off the dust, I’ma be fine
Better with time, aging like wine
Ma had that Kia I thought I would shine
‘Til I lost my spirit and my will to rhyme
But I got it back so it’s done for you guys
Hero or villain see everyone dies
Sky or the ceiling not everyone tries
You hear it, my spirit, this boy gonna rise
Been hurting for certain not closing the curtain
I really hope I am not being a burden
I’m working on being a way better person
I’m peaceful when speaking so why are you cursing
New day, a new episode, how you rehearsing
Don’t have time to fake, it the feeling just worsen
Hiding your feelings with sex drugs and burkens
What you gonna do when that stuff isn’t working
Numb and you dumb cause you constantly percin
I dance with the devil, she flirting and twerking
To sell a bit then you must hit that’s for certain
Can’t go into labor if you never working
Promise I’m working real hard to be celibate
But I’m gone f* the world just for the hell of it
Praying my music and ideas all sell a bit
So when you see my grandkids you can tell ’em this
Lawrence Matthews © Ahmad George
Lawrence Matthews © Ahmad George



Each verse is as fiery, as soulful, and as meaningful as the last.

We all gone float in the end so why not be a light and touch some souls?” Teco raps, encouraging all to be the best version of themselves and uplift those around us, despite how painful the world can often feel. “Being black made me feel like ain’t nothing else on the other side, so I star gazed and counted numbers ’til I felt something in my insides,” Matthews confides in his especially raw, visceral verse. “These here is dark times weighed down by these soul ties… Every loss is a new life and a closer link to the other side…

And in the third and final verse, Idi shines with the bright light of resolve and unwavering dedication – to his craft, to life, and to being a better person – in a literally breathtaking display of rap acumen: “Hero or villain see everyone dies, sky or the ceiling, not everyone tries,” he declares. “You hear it, my spirit, this boy gonna rise. Been hurting for certain, not closing the curtain, I really hope I am not being a burden, I’m working on being a way better person, I’m peaceful when speaking so why are you cursing…

For all the aching in their hearts and souls, “Once More & Again” sees Matthews, Idi, and Teco rising like a magnificent phoenix, from the (metaphorical and literal) ashes of all those who’ve come before them, in a feverish fury of fire and passion; of willpower and perseverance; of inner strength and staying power.

Lawrence Matthews © Sam Leathers
Lawrence Matthews © Sam Leathers



Lawrence Matthews describes “Once More & Again” as an ode to all the fallen Black souls of the South.

We feel this sentiment echoed throughout both his music, as well as his song’s cinematic music video. Directed by himself and his brother, Martin Matthews, the visual sees a pastor, portrayed by Lawrence Matthews, coping with loss. The video further highlights themes of death, religion, and Black Southern traditions as the Matthews brothers further dig into the questions raised in the song’s provocative, critical, timely, and urgent lyrics.

“The visual follows a young troubled pastor dealing with the loss of someone close to him and deals with themes of loss, isolation in leadership, reincarnation, and communal grief and faith while living through various conditions in the South,” Lawrence Matthews adds. “The story takes place in a composite time, blending Black Southern Christian aesthetics of ’20s, ’60s and ’90s church.”

It’s a reminder that history repeats itself in nasty ways, and that advances gained can just as easily be lost. It’s also a painful reminder of the number of innocent Black lives that have been taken far too soon, not just in recent years, but over centuries.

One has to hold onto hope that music can be more than a coping mechanism; that it can be a vehicle for meaningful, lasting change. If Matthews shares that sentiment, it’s buried deep within the bones of “Once More & Again (Our Mourning)”; this song is, first and foremost, a dirge – a cathartic, mournful reckoning with the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st Century Black experience on American soil. We can’t shake that weight, but we also can’t deny the infallible strength and energy exuded by Matthews, Idi, and Teco; and there, in their undeniably evocative, impassioned performance, we find an inspirational celebration of the Black experience.

“Once More & Again (Our Mourning)” promises to break you down, so that it can build you back up stronger than ever before. Lose and find yourself anew in Lawrence Matthews’ soul-stirring new single.

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:: stream/purchase Once More & Again here ::
:: connect with Lawrence Matthews here ::
“Once More & Again (Our Mourning)” – Lawrence Matthews ft. Idi X Teco



— — — —

Once More & Again (Our Mourning) - Lawrence Matthews
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? © Ahmad George


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