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When everything is post-post-post-post something older and better where do the exceptions go? When the sci-fi 20’s ‘Urban’ might as well be the atomic 50’s ‘Race’, when R&B has no blues and hiphop is a boom bip with a shorty, a hoe, it’s off to the street corner we go… where does a group like Young Fathers, who ‘pick'n'mix from the popular music sweety shop and fly no flags and swear allegiance to no country’ (© - 100 interviews with the group in 2014) - where do they go?
They have to go to the place where Beck makes a sandwich with The Beach Boys and Captain Beefheart, where Faust and The Fall tango. In Rock and Pop you are allowed to pretty much be yourself. If you are a blue and green eyed boy from Brixton with the sallowest of white skin you can become the epitome of crystalised soul, itself. It swings both ways. So… Young Fathers are breaking out of the ghetto. Fuck these constrictive selling boxes.
For the purposes of this mission, this album, this 'White Men Are Black Men Too', is rock and pop. And hip hop, too No, you don’t box in the R&B Hits 2003 generation that easily. This sticker is only for the business. The listeners can decide for themselves.
The sounds are closer on this album, closer to your ears. It sounds as if you are in the room during the recording, possibly experiencing a little existential trauma, but not enough that you don’t notice an earworm hook when you hear one. These hooks, they stay with you. ‘Is that what they mean by pop’? you ask yourself. Could be, Madonna, could be. There are less words than before. Why, for fuck’s sake? Where is the hip hop? It slides in, like a reverse version, a negative, of the hip hop blueprint of eight verses and a sweet, female wail of a hook (while comedy rapper number 6 mutters ‘uh huh, uh huh’, you know, keeping it real). But YFs lob raps into songs that morph into sung verses then back into the tune, with no respect, none! for the law.
These are grown men, battle fit and in their prime. There are no celebrations of dole queue theatre, no fake politics - there’s no need. YFs are right there in the middle of the question: what is your ID? Why claim to speak for a dispossessed white or black class or group or generation? When you can only ever speak for yourself.
When they chant ‘nigger nigger nigger’ the group are singing their enemy’s song (and you can all sing along) - it’s not a war cry, it’s the off switch, the left hand turn in the ignition, the pop-hiss of deflation. No more war, motherfucker. The tension is sexual, tuneful, it’s only fun about to kick off.
Rain Or Shine
Old Rock N Roll
A1. Still Running
A5. Rain Or Shine
B1. Old Rock N Roll
B4. John Doe
B5. Dare Me
B6. Get Started