Ancestry in Progress
The highly anticipated follow-up to 2000’s A Ma Zone finds frontwoman Marie Daulne using a pastiche of sound effects as metaphor for personal and familial histories. Ancestry’s spread of Daulne’s trademark chirping, raspy vocal gymnastics over chopped-up vocal samples and snippets of movie dialogue combined with inspired guest emceeing by Bahamadia (“Show Me The Way”) and Talib Kweli (“Yelling Away”) was well worth the wait.
Assault with a Deadlee Weapon
After a three-year touring and recording break following his critically acclaimed debut 7 Deadlee Sins, the underground legend returns with a thicker, crispier mix of punk-tinged hip-hop. Standing at the apex of Los Angeles gay Latino gang culture, Assault’s mix of bounce and buzzsaw (“No Fags Allowed”) bravely conveys complex stories on race, class and sexuality rarely heard in the genre.
Though viewed by many as a retreat from the wild experimentation that marked the 2003 boundary-stretching Electric Circus, Common’s sixth album has effectively synthesized the disparate influences into a focused ten-track personal improvement course in 4/4 time. Helmed by wunderkind beat maestro Kanye West, Be is a decidedly grown-up take on a kid’s game: serious and introspective, yet remembering to have fun in the middle of it all.
The Souttrotta Series
Vol. I: The Blue State
(Trust Life Releases)
In a desert of neo-soul cliches, The Blue State effectively mixes politics, partying and real life without degenerating into vapidity or sloganeering. Project creator Hanifah Walidah, Mrk DrkFthr, and Tim’m West headline a talented medley of independent musicians that bravely speak truth to power (“Negrolosophy”, “Do,Do,Do”), shake the spirit and move the crowd simultaneously.
Juba Kalamka is a member of the queer hip-hop crew Deep Dickollective, founder of the label Sugartruck Recordings and curator of the annual PeaceOUT World Homohop Festival in Oakland, California.