FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

Watch Zebra Katz and Leila's Tortured Tribute to "Nina Simone"

The queer rapper's collaboration with London producer Leila just keeps getting better.
June 8, 2015, 10:30pm

Collaborations aren't easy, but here's an example of two artists feeding off each other in brilliant ways. Zebra Katz, the queer rapper behind "Ima Read," recently teamed up with London producer (and Bjork collaborator) Leila for an EP called Nu Renegade. "Nina Simone" is the second video from that release, and it's a tortured tribute to the high priestess of soul.

"This track is simply the truth and nothing but it," Zebra tells us. "[Nu Renegade] is a reflection of how I see and feel about the current time most of us live in, and each month we plan to release a visual to help exemplify that."

"My first time hearing Nina's music on vinyl was one of the sweetest things I've ever heard," he continues, attributing his deep respect to her "emotionally penetrating" voice and political activism. After Zebra showed Leila this video of Simone performing at Montreux, she too understood the devotion.

They filmed "Nina Simone" with director Patrick Stemelen in Paris during Fashion Week. As he raps in a sitting position, the screen behind Zebra flashes film footage that references the song's lyrics. When he says "thug," for example, we see footage of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon from their 1970 gangster movie Borsalino. What's most devastating about this video is the rawness of Zebra's delivery. "I was expecting Zebra to play it thug and he switched it and played it real," Leila says.

Nu Renegade is out now

Follow Michelle Lhooq on Twitter