The Deliberate Choice of “Classic Man” in Moonlight

In the third and final part of Moonlight, Chiron introduces the audience to Black, his new, present-day persona. Unlike his timid, insecure school days when he was nicknamed Little, Black is now a burly, masculine drug-dealer residing in Atlanta. In this part of the film, Black drives home to Miami to meet Kevin, his former crush. While leaving Kevin’s restaurant, Black plays a chopped and screwed version of “Classic Man” by Jidenna in his car, a song that describes a confident, masculine, womanizing man. The deliberate choice of “Classic Man” personifies Chiron’s inauthentic life as Black, symbolizing a theme of using hyper-masculinity to suppress his sexuality and true character. When Kevin asks Black where he will sleep that night, Black hides in his music by turning the volume up on “Classic Man,” using it as a smokescreen. More specifically, the fact that “Classic Man” is chopped and screwed further represents Black’s suppression. In a behind-the-scenes footage clip of Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins describes his decision to use chopped and screwed music:

Hip hop is very fast, so the poetry, the lyricism of hip hop, is usually coming at you in a very quick clip, but with chopped and screwed, all those words are slowed down so this yearning and this loss and this longing comes to the surface. (Jenkins)

Even the particular section of “Classic Man” chosen for this scene show intention. The lyrics are as follows, “I’m a classic man/You can be mean when you look this clean, I’m a classic man/Calling on me like a young OG, I’m a classic man.” The lyrics suggest this part was chosen because the repetition sounds like a man who wants people to believe he is a classic man. Wouldn’t a true classic man not have to repeat he is one?

Once the two reach Kevin’s place, Black begins to let his guard down, without “Classic Man” to hide behind. He confides in Kevin that he is the only man who ever touched him, and he hasn’t touched anyone since. This further emphasizes “Classic Man” use in Moonlight exemplifies Black’s elusiveness and use of hyper-masculinity to hide his sexuality. The specific lyrics of “Classic Man” chosen for the scene, along with being chopped and screwed, show the complexity of Chiron’s character and his internal struggle of hiding behind “Black.”

(Image source)

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