I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time.
We Be All Africans is wholly political. Its songs are rich enough for a politicizing listen. Their lengths burn the mind.
The title of the album is slogan English, replenished by political rallies and political conversation. The song “We Be All Africans” is Afrobeat-ish Jazz, political, that could be a Fela Kuti song. Fela’s aesthetic was built on ethos guided by Nigerian religion and ethnic culture and so was his appeal. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids’ Afrobeat is rooted in subjective political sentiment, on abstraction about ‘blackness,’ and on an appreciation of Afrobeat. Ackamoor’s Afrobeat nonetheless sounds phenomenal.
“Whispering Tenderness” is soul, also political. It’s the sort of song that conjures good sentiment both because of a woman’s singing voice and because of a fresh and cool perspective; it is a medley of goodness. “Traponga” is a much harsher listen. That they are on the same album is exactly what We Be All Africans is all about: it strives to cover a significant pan of what Ackamoor considers to be African-ness (political.)
“Silent Days” is what is today considered Afro-futurism (political.) If translated to French, it could be a jazzy French chanson (political) and would work. English, the language par example of Gothic feeling and of sobriety, of reformation, seems unsuited to this sort of political feeling balladry.
“Epiphany” is slow and sultry. Naming a sultry song “Epiphany” is fascinating (is sultry, the act of being sultry, an epiphany about one’s self?) In the US (because of its protestant cultural history) it may be the case. What’s more is that perhaps blackness in music, black music, provided this country with an epiphany about individuality – that this world was made to Jazz, rag, rock, blues, stride, funk, in until one’s death.