Ian Kamau & Andy Williams at The Brigantine Room

hyperadmin | A City In Focus | Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Ian Kamau

What up, what up?! This is just a quick note to those who neither went down nor stuck around to catch Montreal-based platter-spinning musicologist Andy Williams and profound local wordsmith Ian Kamau for there knowledge spreading wrap party to the busy Femi Kuti set at Harbourfront last Saturday. What you missed was a hot offering of some of the deepest, genre-splicing, afrocentric jams around, served up by a DJ referred to affectionately as “the Teacher” in Williams, along with a live preview of cuts that will no doubt form the basis of Kamau’s official full-length due in the world this coming September.

Previously: Ian Kamau – September Nine Mixtape

Seems the thought-provoking spoken word artists is finding increasing comfort in the role of traditional MC these days, as his set was largely comprised of slow-to-mid-paced hip hop joints dealing with issues of love, life, progress, and the complex baggage carried by each of these themes. While the showcase went reasonably well (setting, subject matter, and the unfamiliarity factor considered), one particular moment that gave me pause came during the performance of his spine-straightening staple “Black Bodies” to the sporadic cheers of those paying at least cursory attention to the lyrics.

For those who have never heard it, the piece deals with some serious and unfortunate realities prevalent in sections of the black community, but the content of this specific monologue is not so much the issue (because the same could apply to Neil Young’s “Ohio” or Gil Scott Heron’s “The Bottle”)¬†as is the way in which we should react to such content, which in my mind is not with cheers, but with at least a moment of pause and reflection, though something I know doesn’t really work well for a live performer hoping for more than a silent room. But that’s sort of the sticking point with me – how are we meant to respond such a strong message, and what would cause people to cheer at what is essentially a depiction of a very negative and undesirable – if not horrific – set of circumstances? For another example, I feel the same way when people play tunes like Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” willy-nilly at parties or other gatherings (something that also happened during Kamau’s set), as though the words of that track were not describing atrocities that happened to very real people during a time that some who are a still with us actually suffered through. These types of songs are not simply “big chunes”, as someone behind me cried out, but the powerful documentation of issues and occurrences we should be striving to vanquish and move beyond, and something that, in the minimum, is worth a bit of contemplation, and not simply a few throwaway two-fingered gunshots in the air.

But with that off my chest, I must commend Kamau for the work he’s been bringing, and for his performance that night. Things are definitely moving in the right direction as always, and I’m expecting big things when his record hits wherever it hits in Fall ’09. Congrats to a dope party!! Oh, and check out Andy William’s Variations In Time disc to get a taste of what this man is delivering on the regular.

Previously: Ian Kamau – September Nine Mixtape

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

CityOnMyBack.com Powered by WordPress | Theme edited by Karla "hustleGRL" Moy | Contact us: cityonmyback@gmail.com