by Jeremy Danté


this isn’t about pitting good against evil or right versus wrong. rather, this is a change in perception, a shift of focus on the stories of villains. to understand the root of evil is to have processed thoughts of vulnerability. developed through anguish or hurt, comes evil. in the world of image, the casting of light versus dark is a routine occurrence. i have long found darkness entrancing, and beautiful. never ever allowing the stories of fairy tales to affect the ways that i processed beauty, as an independent idea formed after being informed, of how stories were intended to be told. i was always much more attracted to the idea that the heroes or princesses had a strange fascination, as well as fear, with what is dark. villains are often the unsung heroes, they are the supporting roles that provide contrast to starring roles. without proper support, would these heroes have gone on to maintain these positions, in play? equally as important as heroes, villains provided contrast and complex thoughts. villains are smart, which makes them much more of a threat than the pretty princesses through the kingdom of our perception. in this regard, i’ve always been the villain.

i think about how i grew up, always leading someone. always knowing better, never having to be coached, very rarely taught something. i remember the summer following second grade, i literally came out of the bathroom with the thought that i wanted to read. i sat for the whole day, at my grandma’s and taught myself to read a book called, “happy birthday moon” by frank asche. villains take initiative. those fucking princesses sit and wait to be urged to do something. us villains, we’re the movers, the do-ers that create those urges in the heroes. we provoke thoughts and illustrate execution. for, without the work of villains, would ordinary people be moved to become heroes? who is more important in the story, the aggressor whom is the villain or the hero, who in many cases at first becomes portrayed as a victim before they’re poised in heroic manner.

sitting front row at the show, donning sunglasses without expression to conceal any indication of enthusiasm- modern day villains rule the glossy world of high fashion. moving a million units during an opening week of record sales, engaged to the modern day marilyn monroe, speaking truth in unsuspecting spaces of artificiality- villains dominate in the rap world. it’s all in perception. but what would heroes be without the villains that drove their efforts? who is the real hero, if the villain is the one who provoked such a response? as the catalyst, villains too hold value. in our world, individuals of color have often been portrayed as villains. the dark side is often promoted as a bad place to be. powerful women are labeled bitches because they simply command respect rather than asking for it. in our world, the perception of good versus evil is somewhat skewed. as dynamics shift, the close of the year has brought about these thoughts in my mind. i would rather be painted as a villain for fighting what i believe in, for representing what i know as truth, rather than follow the rules and take the road more often traveled. off kilter, enraged, provoked- all words of evil connotation. what i’ve done in this space is shift perception with words. venturing off kilter to represent truth in un-obvious ways of interpretation. enraged by oppression to make a way for the betterment, by making the necessary sacrifice to demand that change. provoked by lack of recognition, pissed by the absence of acknowledgement- in search of such reward.

these are common threads and plots, but your view of what a villain lends to a story might be a misinterpretation. villains are inverted heroes with better outfits and greater dimension in story telling. there is beauty in darkness, as we’ve seen in our own lives as individuals of color. the darkness in which we derive diversifies our view of the world. the darkness in which we derive is a large factor into the ways that we reveal our passion, the ways we communicate, and the ways that we create. in providing us with range, our own darkness provides contrast to light. without darkness there can be no light. stories of both villains and heroes are just as important to one another. there is no competition in process. especially when comparing yourself to others. a win is a win, however you want to look at it. it can take someone less time to get a hit on billboard, but can take several years for an artist to develop a strong album, filled with multiple tracks, to comprise a powerful body of work. it’s all mindful presence of who you are, what you want and how you get there, through learning and development.

the focus of villains is more attractive than what we often see, in portrayals of heroes. i find myself relating to the villain in the story. the underlying lesson that, villain type casting can happen when one is victimized for too long. it’s a pathway that is often times neglected, or cast aside by easier stories. not to say that villains can’t become heroes in the end- but the point i make is that there is no right or wrong. each story is unique to the person starring in the story. the star of the story, in your story- should always be you. i have found myself to be the hero and the villain. it provides a full scope of accountability, a greater set of balance from both angles. power is power,  when people don’t understand it- they shy away from it and call it evil. my being evil cannot be used as an excuse for your inability to understand my depth. evil to some means superior, direct, without boundary. to me, evil is restraint, imprisonment, control. perception, much like style, is unique to the individual who is perceiving said subject. be who you wanna be- hero or villain. just win.