Black rage. It's always been one of the biggest driving elements to the constant drive to protest every form of systemic racism. It's a rage that's the product of self-awareness of the reality of our standing as people in the face of the American Empire. It's a constant rage, one that erupts even within me every now and then. As put eloquently by the illustrious James Baldwin:
"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time — and in one's work. And part of the rage is this: It isn't only what is happening to you. But it's what's happening all around you and all of the time in the face of the most extraordinary and criminal indifference, indifference of most white people in this country, and their ignorance" ( "The Negro in American Culture" // Radio Interview/Dialogue with James Baldwin, Langston Hudges, Lorraine Hansberry, etc (1961): https://youtu.be/jNpitdJSXWY)
I find, however, that there is another emotion that is often overlooked in times of such racialized strife such as this. Joy. Happiness. There is no way that we were able to endure so much without joy, and that joy is undergirded by love. Love for oneself, and love for other people. It's the love that says I am human. Despite the odds, I am a human being, and so is everyone else. I have joy, anger, sadness, fear, etc like everyone else of any color or creed.
This album is Black Joy in it's purest form. From the lively drums, and the vibrant vocals, to the smile-inducing spoken words, fluttering woodwinds, and groove-heavy bass guitars. This is a bonafide funk-fusion album through and through.
It's an album full of joyous protest anthems. Full of black people affirming their humanity to the world loudly and proudly. A declaration that no matter big the weapons are, they can never crack this chocolate smile.
The philosopher Dr. Cornel West would often talk about the lack of "soul-stirring" music in this generation. Music like Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, Billy Holiday, and the likes. Music touches you and invigorates you in a profound way. As someone who loves all kinds of music, of course, I don't agree with his cynicism. However, when music like this comes around every now & then, I can't help but see eye to eye with him.
Faves: Strong, Rise, I Just Want to Dance, Street Fighter, Son Shine, The Beginning & the End, Free, You Know It Ain't, Uncomfortable, No Black Violins in London, Scary Times, The Black & Gold, Little Boy
Least faves: Fearless