Album Review: Childish Gambino – 3.15.2020

On his FX show Atlanta, Donald Glover and company have mastered the art of wrapping the political in a veil of surreal comedy and a distinct lack of concern. It’s a show where little happens, and yet says more about race and class in America than a whole month of The Daily Show. Take the skit about a black teenager who wants to transition into “a 35 year old white man” or the quite horrific season two scene where a frat boy tries to impress rapper Paperboi by eulogising Pimp C as “one of the last true prophets” while smoking a joint in front of a confederate flag.

When asked about white people watching the show Glover said to The New Yorker that “I want them to really experience racism, to really feel what it’s like to be black in America… the characters aren’t smoking weed all the time because it’s cool but because they have P.T.S.D.—every black person does. It’s scary to be at the bottom, yelling up out of the hole, and all they shout down is ‘Keep digging! We’ll reach God soon!”.

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I mention all of this before even arriving at Glover’s new album as Childish Gambino because this is the new mould of his music too. Just like there is no scene in Atlanta where Earn turns to the camera to eulogise about race in America, there are no protest songs on 3.15.2020, and nor do I think he wanted these songs to be more than jams if the listener didn’t want them to be – but this music is also very much a product of the world as it stands in 2020. Continue reading “Album Review: Childish Gambino – 3.15.2020”

An Introduction To The Music of Nina Simone.

Nina Simone is a unique voice in the annuls of soul history. Trained as a classical pianist in segregated North Carolina, and retaining a desire to perform such material while upholding one of the most acclaimed vocal jazz careers of the sixties. Her war-like persona is almost as famous as her music; but her passion radiates through her deep, expressive voice and a catalogue of fantastic material – containing some of the most iconic ballads ever laid to wax. For a woman whose best work was recorded more than half a century ago, Simone’s talent still stands tall and touches deeply to this day. Here’s my guide on where to start.

Feeling Good

Her 1958 debut album Little Girl Blue was unusually quick to tap the essence of Simone’s talent. It’s a jazzier record than some of her later big band efforts but is also in many places a more stripped back one, focussing on the strength of her voice and the delicacy of her classically trained piano. ‘Plain Gold Ring’ sees her performing a Doors-esque dirge 10 years before Jim Morrison would, and her first classic ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ sees Simone at her melodic best; piano chords falling like jackhammers.

00602537451760-cover-zoom.jpg Continue reading “An Introduction To The Music of Nina Simone.”