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Shoreline teen spreads message of love with Archers hip-hop

Archers, featuring Nathan Nzanga (4th from left), who wrote the song "Truce." (Photo courtesy of Nathan Nzanga)
LISTEN: A teenage rapper from Shoreline is spreading the message of love and empathy through music

The song is called “Truce.” It was written by Nathan Nzanga, who is about to start his senior year at Shoreline’s Shorecrest High School. He’s one of seven high school musicians who make up the group Archers.

“I wrote ‘Truce’ right after Alton Sterling died,” Nathan said. “Then after that Philando Castile died, and then after that the shootings happened in Dallas, and then after that the shootings happened in Baton Rouge. It was really frustrating because it just felt like there was another person with this whole issue of police brutality and now police brutality retaliation. I was thinking: when is it going to stop?”

Nathan, who will be student body president this fall, says the stories he hears about on the news affect his daily life.

“I’m definitely always self-conscious [and say to myself], ‘Oh, Nathan, you’re black don’t do that,” he said. “‘Nathan, you’re black, don’t do this. There’s a police officer, don’t do this.'”

“My parents have the talk with me every single time one of these things happen,” Nathan said. “[My mom is] like, ‘Nathan, if you ever get pulled over just make sure he sees your hands at all times. Don’t do any sudden movements. Keep your hands on the wheel. Say, ‘yes sir, no, sir.’ Part of it, I know, is a respect thing and the other part of it is just annoying. The fact that I have to keep my hands on the wheel because they think I’m going to pull out a gun and shoot somebody — it’s annoying.”

Archers and the message of love

He spent four days writing the song, and then collaborated and produced it with the rest of the Archers.

“Music is one of the easiest ways for me to express myself and articulate what I feel about things,” Nathan said. “I think that music is so universal. With songs like this you can understand the pain but then feel a little bit more hope.”

How does Nathan think his generation is handling racial relations?

“A hundred fifty years ago, or however long ago it was, slavery was a thing,” he said. “Then 60 years ago segregation was a thing. We’ve come a super, super, super long way and we’re definitely not done. But I’m very excited for the future when it comes to our generation. I think we’re going to start genuinely loving each other.”

And love is the main message he’s promoting with “Truce.”

“The song isn’t strictly about race,” he said. “The biggest thing I wanted to get across with the song is that we just need to start loving each other. Love isn’t just a feeling, love is something that you do. Love is putting yourself on the same level as everyone else. Love is selflessness. Love is recognizing that all of us are human. Love is being empathetic. Empathy isn’t sympathy, empathy is just getting on the same level as someone.”

“Just being able to say, ‘You know what, you’re going through this, I’m here for you,'” Nathan said. “That’s what I want people to learn when they listen to the song. And not, oh, there’s issues and Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter, uh, cops, police brutality. That’s what the song stemmed from but the true meaning of this song is about starting to love each other.”

“Truce” is available on iTunes, Apple music, SoundCloud and Spotify.

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