Tag Archives: Bold As Love

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Unlocking The Truth

By Andrea Plaid

Unlocking The Truth's Malcolm Brickhouse (l) and Jarad Dawkins.

Unlocking The Truth’s Malcolm Brickhouse (l) and Jarad Dawkins.

In the midst the Paula Deen- and Miley Cyrus-leveled foolishness this week stood Unlocking The Truth, a trio of young Black guys who’ve been unleashing slaying metal chords in New York City for a minute. Though they didn’t wipe racism’s grime from the nation’s consciousness, they’re a definite salute to what Black folks have long brought to US music–which is fitting for this month, African American Music Appreciation Month (a.k.a. Black Music Month).

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REVIEW: Tamar-Kali — “Black Bottom”

By Guest Contributor Rob Fields, cross-posted from Bold As Love

Like Tina Turner, you get the feeling from listening to Tamar-kali’s debut album Black Bottom that she never did anything nice and easy. But it’s that struggle she articulates to come into her own that has helped Tamar-kali create Black Bottom, and the result is an exhilarating, cathartic rock n roll tour de force.

In many ways, this album flows like a coming-of-age story. Not so much of a young girl growing into a woman, but rather the transformation of a young woman who’s unsure of her own power into the warrior goddess who’s fierce with the light of her own clarity.

The album’s opener “Pearl” sets the tone for the rest of the album: focused, powerful, grinding guitar lines, sharp, crashing drums and a distinctive, reverberating low end. She sings:

her oyster walls this big city
she is the pearl roughly confined
and to you alls still a mystery
filled with doubt though she is ripe
so she moves anxious but steadily
fading now into the night

And it only gets better from there.

It would be a selling her short to talk about Tamar-kali as just a powerful voice and well-written songs. And it’s true: She can shift her voice at will, one moment a caress, the next piercing or pummeling. No, what’s also striking about Black Bottom is the feeling you get of catharsis. Not a word I use too often when talking about music, largely because I don’t have that experience often. And I credit this to her ability to as a composer, not just as a lyricist. There goes that clarity thing again, in that I feel like there was a very strong vision on her part. Not only did she know what she wanted sonically, but she was able to get that out of her band. That’s no small thing.

You want specifics? I can’t listen to “Caught” or especially “Warrior Bones” without wanting a cigarette afterwards. And I don’t smoke.

Yeah, “Warrior Bones.” If you chart this person’s development through all the songs—‘cause not all the songs are necessarily about her–this song is like that moment in The Matrix, where Morpheus says, “He is finally beginning to believe.” Or when the warrior, rejuvenated, comes down from the temple ready to face her opponents. But, even though she’s ready for battle, not everyone else is:

These warrior bones ache for revolution
But the people ain’t ready
These pathetic souls yearn for revelation
But there’s no message, just silence.

After one listen, I dare you try to walk down the street without that stuck in your head.

Even when you think you’re catching a break from the fury and wrath—check out the melodious first half of “Maimed” with its shuffling beat riding just under her honeyed delivery—ferocity is never far away.

And I gotta give it up to the band–Jerome Jordan on rhythm guitar; Jeremiah Hosea on bass; Mark Robohm on drums, and Thom Loubet on rhythm/lead guitar—these guys are tight and they can stop on a dime. And Tamar has said as much that these guys are an equally important part of this story.

Yes, this album is soulful. But make no mistake: This is a rock album through and through. And it’s also easily made the list Boldaslove.us’ Best of for 2010.

Wanna check it out?  Ready to buy?  You can do all of that here.

Quoted: Rob Fields on “BlackRoc”

How can you call something “BlakRoc” when the black folks on the project only rap and the rockers are all white?

BlakRoc is the name of Damon Dash’s upcoming project, a collaboration between white rockers The Black Keys and rappers such as Mos Def, Q-Tip, Ludacris, and Raekwon, to name a few.  Ordinarily, I could care less what Damon Dash does.  But in choosing this name for the project, he crossed a line: You can’t match black rappers and white rockers and call it “BlakRoc.”

No, BlakRoc has nothing to do with black rock, something I’ve spent nearly the last three years championing on my blog.  The conflation of the two is offensive. There’s too much history there. It’s like he’s acknowledging the existence of black rock with his middle finger.

“BlakRoc” is a slap in the face to those of us who have been working to develop audiences for black artists who don’t fit neatly into pre-conceived categories. It’s an affront to those of us who still face apathy and dismissiveness when it comes to the place of blacks in beyond hip hop and R&B.

It’s galling, too, coming on the heels of Dash’s former partner, Jay-Z, saying bands like Grizzly Bear were going to push hip hop.  Some hipsters are going to save hip hop?  Great.  Statements like this ignore all of the black artists who are embracing live music, forming bands, telling more substantive stories, and the audiences who are supporting black alternative music in growing numbers.  That’s going to force hip hop to evolve.

— “Dash’s BlakRoc Disses Black Rock,” Rob Fields, black rock evangelist and blog owner of BoldAsLove.us

Latoya’s Note: I’m a big fan of the work Fields does at BoldAsLove, and just found out they released a free compilation called “Fire in the Dark: Songs from the New Black Imagination.”  You can download it on Amazon.  I like “Freedom is Over,” “Everybody,” “On Planet Earth,” “Icon,” “The Last Time We’re Here,” and “The Ballad of Fletcher Reede,” but they are all worth a listen. – LDP