Mela Machinko is a Brooklyn-based hip-hop soul singer who’s collaborated with artists like Talib Kweli, Pharoah Monche and others. Mela’s releases highlight her versatility as an artist steeped in both classic hip-hop and classic soul traditions; she’s as expressive as she is clear-eyed. And her single “Brooklyn Blues” exemplifies both of her best traits as a songwriter. And it reveals the all-too-real pain that informs the song’s topicality.
Mela’s artistry, showcased beautifully on projects like 2010s Patron the acclaimed 2012 mixtape Hov Said It Best (2013) and her 2014 EP 9 A.M. Blue, is directly tied to her community and her community is a part of her spirit. “Brooklyn Blues” is a lament for the borough she loves and what’s happening to it. This is her story.
In the summer of 2014, a large management company bought my apartment building (I lived in a rent stabilized apartment that has been in my family for decades) and that management company promptly stopped accepting our rent checks and began employing all the bullying tactics you read about in the Daily News: “broken” boilers, not returning phone calls or saying we had the wrong number; various forms of harassment like the superintendent showing up at 10pm on Sunday nights to do repairs, etc. One year later, they sued to evict (on nonpayment grounds). Tuh.
We retained a lawyer and the battle began.
The emotional and psychological stress of being pushed out of your home cannot be overstated.
My family made the decision to stop the fight, settle- and relocate to where the living is easier. Folks were tired of struggle.
Now I stand, one of the last of an ENTIRE family of native Brooklynites, still here- but honestly wondering what I’m holding onto at this point.
So when brilliant filmmaker and director Victorious DeCosta sent me the completed clip for this, it hit me in the gut. This is why, now. Everything in perfect time.
Brooklyn family, look at these neighborhoods in my video, and remember what they were when they were ours. They once were ours. They aren’t anymore.
There is a “joke” that goes, “you can tell someone is actually from Brooklyn when they can’t afford to live there anymore.” Ha- ha.
You can purchase “Brooklyn Blues” HERE.