From Earl Sweatshirt to Wakanda, Phonte Details Heartbreaking “Cry No More” Backstory

"I sat with the concept for over a year and a half before writing a word."
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In order to craft his first solo LP in seven years, No News Is Good News, Phonte had to live a full and winding life. 

As he explained in a heartbreaking Instagram post this past weekend, album standout “Cry No More” was the end result of three years of constant twists and turns.

As Phonte revealed, “Cry No More” entered his mind after hearing a clip of an Illingsworth beat in 2015. With the beat rolling at a tempo slower than he was accustomed to, Phonte’s gut reaction was to reach out to fellow MC Earl Sweatshirt. All Phonte needed was a topic for the record in order to set things in motion. Sadly, life happens as it tends to, and in 2016, Phonte lost two of his closest family members.

“I lost my dad and granddad in the same week and buried them both on Labor Day,” Phonte wrote. “The subject matter of the song started to form, but I wasn’t sure of how I would synthesize it all. I sat with the concept for over a year and a half before writing a word.”

While the concept was coming together, his plans to include Earl on the track fell through when Earl’s own father passed in January 2018. Phonte never connected with Earl for the track because, as he explained, he “didn’t wanna put him on 'Cry No More' because, at that point, it felt exploitative. I didn’t wanna disrespect him or his father’s legacy.”

Despite the dark cloud surrounding the record, Phonte was able to find the inspiration he needed to complete it during a family movie night to see Black Panther. “The scenes on the ancestral plane in Black Panther were rough for me. Coogler’s theme of sons paying for their father’s sins and fathers being able to give wisdom in the afterlife that they couldn’t share on Earth, rocked me in ways I wasn’t ready for,” Phonte admitted. “I got home that night and wrote out the first few bars.”

Phonte poured two straight weeks of energy into crafting “Cry No More,” a decision that proves the results more than justify the investment. The track itself may have taken three years to execute, but it carries a generational weight. From the poignant lyrics to the conviction Phonte brings to the mic, “Cry No More” is a definitive track and its tumultuous road to completion makes it all the more meaningful. 

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