Ginger’s Secret History Of Rock’n’roll (pt8)
The Wildhearts man on a quirky classic that might redefine what you call ‘rock’. Check out Ginger’s past Secret History Of Rock’n'Roll entries.
The Black & White Album
Ipecac Recordings, 2007
Of all the living artists I’d willingly part with a testicle to be able to work with, New Yorker Imani Coppola stands at the very top of the list. The woman has everything that a vocalist should ever need and on this, her 8th album, she gets to deliver the entire banquet of talent, squarely and without fuss, at the table of the listener.
Signed to Columbia in 1997 Imani would record her debut album only to be dropped within a few years, before even getting a chance to release her completed second album.
It is no surprise, then, that Patton, suitably smitten by the talent of the insanely gifted Ms. Coppola, would release 2007′s The Black And White Album on his own Ipecac label.
And what an awesome release it really is.
Managing a precarious balancing trick using blocks of hip-hop beats, punk spirit, gospel vocal stylings, rap, pop and general Coppola style weirdness, this album attacks with the fury of punk, the fun of DIY pop and the sweet sass of a very smart woman self-educated in understanding the streets of Brooklyn NYC.
Feisty, anarchic, daring and willfully impossible to pigeonhole, Imani perfectly showcases a biting wit with headstrong attitude and the effect feels like running through your favourite radio station and hearing 14 amazing, completely unrelated songs play one after the other, with added adult lyrics.
Opening with one of the few small interlude pieces, and recalling a nursery rhyme in it’s simplicity, ‘The Black & White Jingle #1′ lyrically sums up the theme of the entire album, namely frustration and anger at the racial intolerance Imani has experienced through being of mixed race parents. Then the album cranks into one of the many, many gear changes about to take place, and ‘Springtime’ sees the party off to an audacious start. With flippant wisdom pouring from every sentence the energy levels are set to stun with rich vocal textures traded in for ferocious punk spite in ‘Woke Up Hwite’.
Such a rude opening barrage could be seen as aimless in the wrong hands, but Imani chooses her running order with a specific effect in mind, and as the opening playful piano starts up the absolutely gorgeous ‘Raindrops From The Sun (Hey Hey Hey)’ one suddenly feels a sense of protection that comes from being in the safe hands of unique genius. Imani is now in full control and ‘Raindrops….’ is the proof. Grand and childlike, it suggests a softness to her tough exterior that lifts the rest of the album to another level entirely. ’30th Birthday’ attempts to follow with workmanlike big beat hip hop that plods amiably along, but in all seriousness nothing could follow ‘Raindrops…’ without sounding lumpen by comparison.
‘Let It Kill You’ glides blissfully by, laying vocal cut-ups next to laid back beats and stinging social commentary. Then, as the mood is suddenly, and very severely darkened with ‘Dirty Pictures’, the brassy ‘Keys 2 Your Ass’ sends the satellite navigation into utter confusion as all strains of a theme are tossed aside on favour of an iPod playoff with a team of schizophrenics.
‘Black & White Jingle #2′ brings a semblance of order to the chaotic bliss with more gentle profanity and the album settles into something resembling a groove, with the cutting (sic) ‘I Love Your Hair’. This groove is then rudely pushed aside by the dense hugeness that is ‘J.L.i.a.T.o.Y.O’. where Imani spits at the idea of John Lennon being a trademark of Yoko Ono. Once again tearing up the album 101 rule book, and once again gleefully swearing like a pirate.
I have yet to hear any female swear with more style than Ms Coppola!
‘I’m A Pocket’ follows in typically eclectic style with loops and samples creating a hypnotic sixties flavoured groove, making way for ‘This Is My Chicken’ to perform a wantonly inappropriate 13 second Latin beat on a bontempi organ until ‘In A Room’ completes the wonderfully bizarre collection with a Californian sunshine take on ‘I’m A Pocket’ that is almost impossibly infectious.
And there, in a very mixed bag of nut shells, you have it.
You don’t own an album like ‘The Black & White Album’. As close to De La Soul as it is to Beck, as much Poly Styrene as it is Lil’ Kim, and as black as it is white, this is the sound of frustration made sonic. A place where ideas follow no guidelines and The Beatles are held in as high regard as Public Enemy.
Imani Coppola currently enjoys more mainstream success with her new Little Jackie project, which relies on a more rap heavy delivery, but it is the freedom to experiment with all her musical toys that makes ‘The Black & White Album’ a far more rewarding experience.
One day I hope to make music with this amazing lady, and I would hope to use this album as a blueprint. Until that beautiful day arrives, The Black & White Album will more than keep me entertained.
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