The provocative album title carries all manner of intimations, not least the suggestion that hip-hop culture, like jazz, blues and soul before it, has persuaded white folk to a more Negrophile position.
But what Young Fathers’ follow-up to the Mercury Award-winning Dead also confirms is that the cultural seepage runs the other way, too: this is an album that has less to do, musically, with traditional American hip-hop than it does with a European indie sensibility grounded in krautrock, electropop and avant-rock. It’s a seething mash-up of influences that offers one of the most intriguing bridges yet established between contrasting transatlantic attitudes and methods.
“Still Running” marks out the territory, its seesawing bass and organ motif anchoring a keening industrial guitar whine, a dark, confrontational sound sweetened later by a toytown keyboard figure. “Shame” and “John Doe” wield puttering drum-machine and synth buzz in the electro-punk manner of Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire. And “Rain Or Shine” pits keening guitar against staccato organ riff.
Elsewhere, the sound gets more abrasive still, with the atonal scrape of violin disturbing the synth warble of “Sirens”, and another squawk of fiddle aligned with spindly guitar on “Old Rock n Roll”, where the exultant chants of “N***a!” underscore deeper racial ruminations: “I’m tired of playing the good black… I’m tired of blaming the white man, his indiscretions don’t betray him.” The pulsing piano grooves of “Nest” and “Liberated”, however, afford more comforting warmth. Oddly, the American hiphop that Young Fathers seem closest to is the inclusive Southern style of Dungeon Family and Arrested Development.
Rock and pop highlights of 2015
Rock and pop highlights of 2015
1/5 Mark Lanegan Band - touring from 20 January
The most intriguing performance prospect of a fairly docile January is the arrival of the Mark Lanegan Band for a clutch of shows in support of the recent masterly album Phantom Radio. Expect soul-ravaged blues fatalism as Lanegan confronts dark memories and apocalyptic visions with apparent sangfroid, his baritone croon traversing soundscapes of chugging electropop, spiralling guitars and courtly pop melancholy.
Kevin Nixon/Future Publishing/REX
2/5 Bob Dylan - Shadows in the Night released 2 February
An album on which Dylan sings Sinatra, a performer in whose voice he claimed to hear "death, God, the universe, everything". He's eschewing the usual swaddling orchestrations in favour of relaxed small-combo versions, recorded with his own band. They're not cover versions, he explains: "They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter of fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day."
3/5 The War on Drugs - touring from 16 February
2014's breakout US indie band will arrive for a string of British dates. Songwriter/frontman Adam Granduciel's blending of Dylanesque vocals, stadium-pop melodies and guitar drones should appeal to fans of Neil Young and My Bloody Valentine alike, and these shows offer the perfect opportunity to check whether they’re as loud and overbearing as Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek claims in his amusing song "War on Drugs: Suck My Cock". Thankfully, music is big enough to accommodate both.
4/5 The Jesus and Mary Chain - touring from 16 February
Having bowed to the demand to perform their debut Psychocandy in its entirety – a move that places them firmly in the rock-heritage classicist ranks, rather than the punk-nihilist cadre of their original 1980s inception – the re-formed Mary Chain take their sweet white whine around the country. Expect: great tunes; loud feedback. Don’t expect: a revolution.
5/5 Nicki Minaj - touring from 28 March
Initial reaction to Nicki Minaj's new album The Pinkprint is mixed, but however its more assertively autobiographical songs transfer to the live arena, bangers like "Want Some More" and "Anaconda" suggest that her upcoming shows should pack some punch. And the flamboyant diva can surely be relied on to put on a show. But what will be the colour-scheme? Think pink.
Those outfits would baulk at the trudging beats of Young Fathers’ closing “Get Started”, but within its almost joyful cacophony there’s a shared celebration of what might be called collective individuality, a belief that the future is made together, not separately.Reuse content