Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile

sonsofkemet“Fuck ’em all, fuck ’em through
Call me a roach, ’cause I’m resilient
I’m born strong, the son of an immigrant
Struggling element
And I’ll be here”

Judging from the lyrics alone, what type of music do you think this is? This isn’t some special line I picked out either. This is on the opening track. Well, would it bother you, or would you find yourself shocked if this music fit nicely into the genre of jazz? What a wonderful fucking word, jazz. A word born with such elastic boundaries, and through years of stretching and bending it has grown into something no one can define. We only know when it is jazz and when it isn’t. It’s more of a feeling than anything else.

“Dude is playing clarinet.”

“That’s classical music.”

“But it’s got this weird bite to it, almost like it’s trying to fuck my ear.” 

“Oh, that’s jazz then.”

Sons Of Kemet have been kicking it since 2011 and made some serious waves back in 2013 with their album Burn. Awards and accolades rained down on Sons of Kemet that year. Each of their albums serves up a slice of saxophone, clarinet, tuba, with a heaping pile of drums. This album is protest music. Back to the source code of what jazz is all about: a music that gives a voice to those who otherwise wouldn’t have one. And guess what, motherfuckers? This is British jazz. There’s been a huge growth of jazz on that front. It’s no surprise to me that jazz is pouring out of a country struggling to reason itself with refugees, racism, and identity. There’s nothing like good old jazz to show the world how identity can—and should—morph and change with time. 

The track names are strong in message. They go as such, “My Queen is…” and a name at the end. Some of the names: Mamie Phipps Clark, Harriet Tubman, Anna Julia Cooper, Angela Davis, Nanny of the Maroons, Yaa Asantewaa, Albertina Sisulu, and Doreen Lawrence. This is an album that celebrates, not just women, but black women. Damn right.

So, if this is their list of queens, then why the fuck is the album called Your Queen is a Reptile? Well, this is based on the conspiracy theory that the Queen of England, as in Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Fucking Mary and her entire family, are shape-shifting lizards from an alien civilization. I shit you not, this is a fucking thing. I don’t think the band is trying to give credence to this crazy conspiracy. The intent seems to be more directed as a hyperbolic comparison between the queens on the tracks and the Queen of England. And, to be honest, next to these women named on the tracks, anyone looks like a scaley motherfucker. This album is great. It’s fun. You’ll want to dance. It keeps stretching those bands on the word jazz. Who knows, maybe one day that shit will snap completely. 



 

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