Sometimes people say things like “the black college experience is transformative.”
First, meet Jerel Duren, a graduate of the historically black Central State University in Wilberforce. He’s a singer and songwriter, a businessman, and young, black and proud. Second, check out his dope new video for his song called “CULTURE” (see below). The song has been doing quite well across all platforms lately as well. Duren told HBCU Buzz in an email that he found inspiration for it by the means of someone in the family (you can check out some of his responses to my questions below too).
“Well, the song was actually written by my brother,” Duren said, adding that he sat on the track for a while and couldn’t find the right thing for it. “I sent the track to my older brother who is also a songwriter and what he sent back is almost exactly what you hear on the record we released.”
“I think because he’s my brother, he knows my voice. He knows the kinds of things that I say and the kinds of things that I stand for and it worked. He got it right!”
As far as the video goes, Duren said that he wanted to show different aspects of blackness. He also wants people to see that we’re different yet equally valuable, which reminded me of that “black on black, black” feel, you know, the popular song by Buddy called Black #BlaExcellence. Buddy’s song hit social media platforms like a storm a few weeks ago, and I was wondering if Duren found some inspiration or not from him?
“I do love that video! I’m rooting for everybody black,” he said. “I don’t think it was a direct inspiration but I love what they did.”
More on the video
When I asked Durin What’s one thing you want viewers to know about you after watching your video? he said that he is definitely “for black people.”:
“I want to see us thrive and shine,” he said. “I respect and honor our black women. I was very intentional about Bianca Wiles, who plays my love interest in the video that is portrayed. I didn’t want her to be an accessory. She is my equal. I hope people can see that from watching the video.”
The black college experience
Indeed, Duren is one of many who believe going to an HBCU — the last cultural jewel black people have left in this country — is transformative:
“I got to see how expansive black people are; how we’re not monolithic, ” Duren said when asked to describe the black college experience. “I’ve developed life-long friendships and mentorships. There were people at Central State University who took a chance on me. When I was unproven, they gave me opportunities to grow and develop as an artist, student and businessman.”
He continued, “I was being pruned. I also found the confidence to believe in myself and in my dreams. I was able to tour the country and the world with the Central State University chorus. Unknowingly, that experience was a precursor for the career path I’m on now.”
“CSU prepared me for life. I can’t say enough about how valuable those four years were. I can’t say enough about how valuable those four years were.”
Duren even talked about his HBCU experience on his YouTube series #Top5 things to know that light on different things that we may or may not encounter throughout our lives in mortality. Check out this particular series below!
He concluded by saying that he is such a fan of HBCU Buzz and is extremely grateful for this interview! Duren also wants us to know that there is more music and more videos coming soon! He said that he can’t wait for you all to see and hear them! Follow Jerel Duren on all social platforms @JDtheCHAMP.