Frank Moka, “Nation Time” (self-released)
Frank Moka is a Dallas-based percussionist who, as a member of The Funky Knuckles, has played with artists like Erykah Badu and Stanley Clarke. His new track, “Nation Time”, is a tight blending of hook with message; groove with theory. Starting off like the feel good hit of the summer, its glistening, sunny piano chords and straight, snappy rhythm making you wish you had that cabriolet, the lyrics kick in and demand your attention – “now you got your shit together/what are you gonna do?” the opening question/salvo. While the song continues to feel airy and light, weighty topics abound: race, (comm)unity, police brutality, misogyny – the message is woven, and it’s impossible to ignore the pattern. With a title that seems to reference Amiri Baraka and/or Joe McPhee (I don’t know if it is intentional), this should maybe not be surprising.
On his SoundCloud page, Moka describes the song as “a Hip Hop/Pop track with a very powerful message”, and he is being understated. Along with other new artists like Jamila Woods, Frank Moka shows that songs with undeniable hooks need not also be vapid. Points can be made while the groove moves you – open the windows, drop the top, and spread the word. In addition to SoundCloud, you can follow Frank Moka on fbook and the twitt. Here’s hoping for more from him soon.
Jamila Woods “Heavn” (Closed Sessions)
Jamila Woods is a Chicago-based poet, educator, playwright, and community activist. As if that weren’t enough, she’s also a singer possessed of an airy, languid voice that is the centerpiece of a fantastic new track, called “Heavn”.
Woods enters cooing modified lyrics from The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, calling for a “trick” that “makes you love someone”; that “makes the winters warm”. The response is a paean to the joy of lasting love, free of (and in the face of) societal constructs and restrictions. Taking a hand, Woods leads a dynastic journey to a past where “great-great-great-great-great-great” grandparents “didn’t need a ring or a broom” to make their love eternal, the refrain “I don’t want to run away with you/I want to live our life right, here” providing comfort.
The track is a welcome throwback to the early days of the so-called ‘neo-soul’ movement, at the intersection of spoken word and hip hop. “Heavn” glides along a looped, propulsive tribe vibe instrumental sampled from The Roots’ Dilla Joints cut, “Eve”, the mix reminding me of personal favorites like Ambersunshower, touching down via a prolonged outro. Transportive.
“Heavn” looks to be the title track of Wood’s forthcoming, debut record on Closed Sessions. Can’t wait to hear more of this. You can do the following thing on fbook, her site, and SoundCloud.
Posted in Reviews
Tagged closed sessions, dilla, heavn, hip hop, jamila woods, poetry, r&B, review, roots, soul, spoken word