Pink Siifu – Negro
The past version of myself would have listened to this and said it’s too violent and it’s too conflicting for the white person in me to listen objectively. Negro is not written to the white person. It is written from the perspective of a person who suffers injustice and the consequences of those injustices as a black man. A white dude is not gonna understand. My job is to try to understand and realize that the violence and anger are not misplaced. They have been experienced. The goal of the music is that there is a conversation to be had here for those who have not had the experience. I am not naive enough to say that I agree with all things on this album. That is not the point of this album. The point might be for you to engage the experience and while doing so; listen, try to understand, and empathize.
Take in these words from mynameisblueskye on the review of Negro on Counterzine
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
This album is hardcore punk meets rap/free jazz meets noise. It is absent of much melody. I am not sure why this album spoke to me so much. But, when George Floyd died and the protests began, I felt the heaviness of the black plight. I have felt it before. My most important mentors in my formative years were black men and women.
Even in it I don’t think some white people in my life will comprehend it. Not the ones who aren’t able to see that taking knees and burning buildings are cries for justice. Not the friends who still start with ‘but what did they do’ in the experience of having been shot by a police officer rather than try to understand systemic racism that leads to these tragedies. They are not ready to visit the racial discussion. This album will make them so uncomfortable they won’t make it through it. If this is you, step out until you are willing to be empathetic and not bring your preconceived white ideas into something that you cannot perceive because it is not your experience.
This album is a voice crying out in anger and truth. Pink Siifu bursts out of the chaos of the opening tracks telling us
I was born black, I live black, and I’ma die probably because I’m black
Read that lyric again. Read it until the truth of it for him makes sense to you. There are moments where as some of the rage progresses it still seems to hold back. We hear a newscast sharing the injustice of a black man dying at the hands of officers. We hear abstract jazz reactions to the pain of loss and angry responses all throughout. We hear things we will not soon forget.
There are hardcore elements on this album that show no signs of a rap artist, it is amazing. Mixtures of hardcore punk, violent rap, and free jazz recorded so loud at times everything is bathed in distortion. Think of 2020 at its’ worst. Would this have fit the moment? I think so.
I am not sorry if this album offends you. It should. That’s the point.
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