Saxophonist, composer, philosopher and writer Shabaka Hutchings returns with a brand-new album from his Mercury Prize nominated outfit Sons of Kemet. Black To The Future, the band’s fourth LP and second on Impulse! Records, is due out on May 14.
This is the band’s most dynamic project yet, featuring prominent vocalists including Angel Bat Dawid, poets Moor Mother and Joshua Idehen, and grime artist D Double E. The first single “Hustle” features Kojey Radical with backing vocals from singer Lianne La Havas and is out today with a dance-inspired metaphorical video directed by Ashleigh Jadee.
Lead single “Hustle” is a propulsive, urgent song with the poetic, chanting lyrics of Kojey Radical. He speaks: “Why ain’t no one tell me peace of mind was pricey /I could dance with the devil but that’s unlikely / Might go broke but that’s unlike me / I was born from the mud with the hustle inside me.”
About the accompanying music video, also released today, Hutchings says: “The dancers represent the duality present within any struggle to transcend internal limitations. As the video progresses, we see that it’s only once the differing elements of the self are reconciled and act in unison that rebirth (symbolized by the immersion in water) can occur.” You can check the video out below.
The last time Shabaka Hutchings released a record, it was March 13, 2020 – on the eve of the pandemic – with Shabaka & The Ancestors’ We Are Sent Here By History. The album centered around themes of confronting the destruction of humanity as we know it. The prescient theme of this record was not lost on those who heard it.
Shabaka Hutchings is consistently in tune with – if not in front of – the cultural themes swirling in our world: past, present and future. He unearths forgotten mythologies, unlocks sounds of the past, and presents a thesis for the future. That continues with Black To The Future, a politically poignant and musically rich album, which feels destined to be placed on the shelf next to Archie Shepp’s Attica Blues or John Coltrane’s Alabama.
Musically, Black To The Future is a bigger affair than previous Sons of Kemet records. The core group – Theon Cross (tuba), Edward Wakili-Hick (percussion), Tom Skinner (percussion) – is enhanced by guests such as UK saxophonist Steve Williamson, Chicago band leader and vocalist Angel Bat Dawid, American poet Moor Mother, legendary British Grime MC D Double E, British artist/rapper/spoken word musical artist Kojey Radical, and more. Shabaka Hutchings also adds complex layers of woodwind instrumentation throughout the record, which he did during lockdown.
Shabaka Hutchings says, ‘Black to the Future is a sonic poem for the invocation of power, remembrance and healing. It depicts a movement to redefine and reaffirm what it means to strive for black power.”
“The meaning is not universal and the cultural context of the listener will shape their understanding,” he continues. “Yet in the end, the overarching message remains the same: For humanity to progress we must consider what it means to be Black to the Future.”
Black To The Future is out on May 14 and can be pre-ordered here.