More about: Sons of Kemet
Following the release of the booming single ‘Hustle’, a track that saw Sons of Kemet team up with one of the UK’s greatest rappers/spoken word artists Kojey Radical, the anticipation for their new album Black To The Future was almost unbearable. A perfect blend of jazz and grime with production to die for and a hook that will stay with you all day, ‘Hustle’ set Black To The Future up as a jazz album unlike anything we’ve ever heard. Now, upon its release, this LP refuses to be confined by genre as Sons of Kemet make one the most atmospheric albums of the year and what can only be described as a masterpiece from start to finish.
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The album establishes itself as a project that will take no prisoners from the word go thanks to opening track 'Field Negus' which includes a haunting spoken word poem over some subtle free jazz. The pain in the words being spoken and their delivery - combined with the chaotic nature of the jazz that accompanies it - play like turmoil doubled down over a bed of fire. It’s like you’re getting a peek at the end of the world as the words “BurnItAll” are repeated and we’re ushered into track two.
From there the whole LP refuses to let up. With each song comes unpredictability: some contain incredibly structed jazz arranges, others provide you with soul and grime vocals, and others still plunge you into complete chaos.
And there's a deeper layer that makes this album even more perfect. Now, full disclosure: you’ve got a white dude writing this review, and where I can appreciate the struggle that people of colour go through in what is a systemically racist society, I’m also aware that it’s something I’ll never fully understand.
Use of free jazz, though, certainly helps in getting the point across. A testament to music’s ability to describe something better than words ever could, Sons of Kemet take free jazz and pay homage to its history as a protest genre, whilst also embracing how things have changed throughout the last 70 years. The record encapsulates the modern day plight of minorities in a way that draws from the influence of those who came before. What you have is chaos with a lot of these songs (as with free jazz), though where there is improvisation present, it doesn’t overwhelm the album.
Musically, Black To The Future is perfect; impossible to find fault with. It’s a blend of chaos that sounds as if a time capsule has been sent back in time, covered in glue and dragged through a history of musical notes inspired by oppression and hustle. The album's message and what it represents is displayed perfectly as sounds whose roots are embedded in chaos are given some structure. All of this combines in the most beautiful way, meaning Sons of Kemet come through to deliver one of the best albums of 2021 so far.
Black To The Future arrives 14 May.
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More about: Sons of Kemet