(Not on Label)
There are some albums that we wish we didn’t still need. For every gay punk band, riot grrrl band, and many others, the music they make, the messages that they deliver is one that they shouldn’t have to repeat twice or more, if only the status quo was less oppressive to those they claim to love, respect and serve. NEGRO, like many punk albums, is one whose message is still vital due to what’s happening now. White-passing people express false oppression at black people showing literally as much pride in themselves and our art as they do in themselves, black kids are getting roughed up and thrown into jail by school policemen, black people still get shot, black women still get disrespected… and the same people who have oppressed us gleefully are the same one calling it disrespectful for crying out at the bullshit. NEGRO is one of those primal screams that came right when we needed it the most.
Those who have kept up with Pink Siifu’s sprawling discography knows that the last thing to do is box him in. He has released jazz records (referring to both his albums as iiye and as VCR@aol.jazz), punk records (more on that later), he raps over soul-sampling beats and also does avant-garde electronic albums (take a listen to his EP year 19803711967, for example). Pink Siifu’s projects all teach you to NEVER have expectations on what a black artist can do now. Hence, if you go into this NEGRO album expecting ensley part 2, you will be a massive fool for it.
Hell, this very fact can be proven by the orchestral blast of horns and free jazz drums in “BlackisGod,A Ghetto-sci-fi tribute”, which is a tribute to known Sun Ra-disciple and LA afrofuturist beatmaker/composer Ras G. Distorted screams of horns and manic drumming ushers the album in what is sure to clue you in on the fact that there will not be a single moment of rest and reprieve. What follows is Siifu taking on blown-out hardcore punk in a way that is not just angry, but passionate about what it is angry about. “SMD” and “FK”, two tracks from his FUCK DEMO sticks a middlefinger directly at white supremacy and its commitment to stealing from the have-nots that don’t share their color. “You wanna fuck with a nigga?“, Siifu screams on “FK” before eventually taking a breather to continue condemning police brutality.
Just when you think you got him pegged, Siifu trips out with “we need mo color”. Through NEGRO, what matters more than the music is the message: fuck white supremacy, fuck 12, know your roots and realize that your pride surrounding being black comes with having to navigate the hell of being black in a country that shows limited to no real respect for you as a human being.
For example of the far latter, news clips of police shootings compound on “ameriKKKa, try no pork” before eventually giving way to the frantic spoken word performance “run pig run” and all before he gives a little shout-out on “DEADMEAT” to Chris Dorner, a policeman who was murdered after being famous for killing other policemen and their families. The entire quadrifecta could easily be summed up in “Deadmeat”: “You treat me like I ain’t shit / Fuck y’all pieces of shit” and “I feel like eating ribs“. Yes, ribs.
To say that NEGRO is an album that explores black anger would be putting it too vaguely. It’s a cathartic scream after the maddening laughter for black people who have to deal with death anxiety, trauma, self-hatred and continued insults of their intelligence in America and a punch in the face to those who just want to hear him rhyme without truly hearing the point of his rhymes. NEGRO is an album that we wouldn’t need if overall situations were less like a predatory hellscape waiting to happen to all of us. If the lyrics “Pigs try to follow me / They tried to kill my family” weren’t a very likely reality. Not only among police, but the white person “joking” about calling the police on you for existing among them.
Considering the social landscape in America, we shouldn’t still need albums like NEGRO, but here we are, and to say we should be glad something like it exists at all feels like an understatement.
Favorite tracks: “SMD”, “FK”, “bebe’s kids,APOLLO (feat. Moor Mother)”
Rating: Strongly Recommended
You can buy Pink Siifu’s NEGRO here.
mynameisblueskye (all lowercase) is a blogger, musicmaker, poet, aspie, and an All-American original. When I tell you that you won’t find Nother one like me, I would really suggest that you take my word for it.