Young Fathers - White Men Are Black Men Too
It’s hip hop - but not as we know it. Only a few months after taking home the Mercury Prize for 2014’s Dead, Edinburgh threesome Young Fathers are back. Winning the Mercury used to mean one of two things: you’re successful critically as well as commercially (Elbow, Arctic Monkeys) or this is the best it ever gets (Speech Debelle, Klaxons, Ms. Dynamite). Now there’s another: those that are critically acclaimed and in the mid-range of success (i.e. they can headline small-medium festivals),consider the likes of James Blake, and The xx in recent years. The early response to follow-up White Men Are Black Men Too suggest that’s the category Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and "G" Hastings fit nicely into.
Not traditional hip hop then, White Men… is an assault on the senses, at times searing a path through your eardrum, melding pop, rock, dance, and rap. If it’s a little unsettling and difficult to take in at first, the jarring sonics begin to soften on repeat listens. Only a little though. And the memory of the initial impact remains. ‘Shame’ and its driving beat propels it, making it the obvious choice for first single; contrast that with the dread-filled ‘Feast’ complete with pained shouting. Beneath the sonics are lyrics laced with politics, supporting the image that the trio have portrayed as kind of urban crusaders. ‘Old Rock n Roll’ delivers on the album title, showing it to be the statement of intent is it is: “I’m tired of blaming the white man / His indiscretion don’t betray him / A black man can play him / Some white men are black men too”
This is a brave and uncompromising response to their new, mainstream profile. Young Fathers - all grown up and taking their responsibilities seriously.