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The Royal Chief, 'My Brother's Keeper'

This #NowPlaying discovery comes to us from this year's Tiny Desk Contest and NPR Member station KCUR.

Kansas City rapper Jamel Thompson looks deep into the camera when he speaks: "I think about you often." He's addressing his older brother, who died almost a decade ago, but whose absence and influence Thompson still feels today.

"My Brother's Keeper" first appeared on The Royal Chief's 2017 Homecoming EP, marking the prodigal son's return to his hometown after years living in Atlanta. (FYI, the Kansas City Royals + Chiefs = The Royal Chief.) Here, the track is intimately reinterpreted for the group's Tiny Desk Contest entry with backing band CRWN JWLS, who provides a steady gospel floor beneath Thompson's testimony.

"And it kills me you never got the chance to meet your daughter, because she's just like you," Thompson tells his fallen brother. The last decade of life has not dulled the sharp edge of loss, but in that time, Thompson has more than honored it.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3

Gabe Rosenberg