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Young Fathers is a band that comfortably pushes the boundaries of hip hop and doesn’t shy away from blurring the lines as much as possible. Having each been named after their fathers, Graham Hastings, Kayus Bankole and Alloysious Massaquoi formed the band in Edinburgh back in 2008. With two albums, one EP, and a coveted Mercury Award under their belts, the trio is back with their latest release, White Men Are Black Men Too.
With a name like that, I expected a political punch in the gut. As it turns out, I got much more. First of all, this album is so far outside the genre of hip hop, I can’t even put it into this category. I’d call it experimental pop-rock. The first single off the album, “Shame,” a percussion driven, toe-tapper was one of my early favorites. The singing throughout is also quite soulful and insistent, while the subject matter is a bit on the dark side. Lyrics like “Nothing but a barefaced lie/ Is all you cunts can hold on to/ I suggest you downgrade fast/ Before it’s a shame on you”
The album flows at its own pace – languid at points, then driving rhythms that are almost relentless in their assault on your senses. This is an album to sink your teeth into. On “Still Running,” the lyrics “What happened to the girl who broke the rules? / What happened to the man who paid his dues?” asks a question that many of us have asked ourselves at least once in our lifetime.
The delivery of such hard hitting lyrics such as these in the form of rapping, singing, yelping, howling basically anything the emotion of the song needs is done on this album. It reminds me a lot of how throughout history, music was used as a form of expression when no other outlets were readily available. The music is just an important vehicle of their message as the lyrics are. It gives the album a weight that I appreciate. It warrants multiple listens to fully grasp each message.
Just as the album is laden with political tones, it’s also surprisingly accessible… even downright danceable. Driving drumbeats, ample bass lines, tickling percussion and catchy melodies truly make every aspect of this album an enjoyable listen. This was a sneak attack of an album that I’m so glad came across my path because it’s been in my daily rotation for about a week now. Artists like D’Angelo, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and now Young Fathers are here to deliver the kind of music that we’ve all wanted for quite some time, but were almost afraid to ask for. Now that it’s here, it simply cannot be ignored.
Article by: Lesley Keller