The video for “Flavor of Green,” the title track on Queens D.Light’s latest EP, opens with the soothing cadence of ocean waves; their lapping is the soundtrack to the camera’s motion as it dives from the rocky shoreline to the deep sea and fades to black. Like a rebirth, the scene reopens in tropical greenery—a backdrop for an intimate, nature-based ritual. Yet despite the beautiful setting, it feels like something’s missing, like there’s an untold story being hidden from view. The soulful beat kicks in. And Queens D.Light, with a piercing, questioning look, fills the frame.
Those first few seconds of the video are a visual metaphor for a theme Queens grapples with throughout her project: working through darkness and past trauma to reemerge in a more confident place, both in art and in life. Recorded over the last four years, Flavor of Green is an exploratory, poetic hip-hop project that probes topics like heteronormativity and spirituality over hazy, atmospheric production.
Flavor of Green is Queens D.Light's first release since her strong debut, California Wildflower, in 2014. Since that time, the Oakland rap artist has shared the stage with Kelis, screened her short film at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and continued her work as a co-founder of the women of color-focused creative agency, The House of Malico—all while becoming a mom. (On July 21, Queens plays her first show since Flavor of Green's release at the Oakland Museum of California alongside Daveed Diggs's rap group, clipping.)
While working on Flavor of Green, Queens's life was constantly in flux. She moved to New York and back to Oakland, embarking on a long housing search, and then had her son. Admittedly, Queens struggled to find her own artistic identity amid all these changes, and the project took years to come to fruition.