TENESHA THE WORDSMITH: WHY WHITE FOLKS CAN’T CALL ME NIGGA | REVIEW

– THE PEACEFUL PROTEST –

Californian beat poet Tenesha ‘The Wordsmith’ Smith returns with a scathing, seething viper of a record; Why White People Can’t Call Me Nigga being the second single to preview her forthcoming album Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts.

Produced along with DJ Khalab the full-length promises to be a ‘call to arms’ against ignorance and injustice, featuring poems that discuss identity, culture, trauma and love.

You get no points for guessing what sort of specific issues this track addresses.

But before we get into the lyrics, it should be noted the density and detail with which Khalab builds the track, from the jazzy ride pattern to the deep bass lines to the afro-futuristic percussion that chugs throughout in the background, occasionally chiming to emphasise key points in Smith’s polemic.

And so to those words.

 “Because you ain’t my comrade you have not felt the rage of seeing your people beaten, raped, hung; your outrage shouted down by oppressors claiming victimhood. And having no recourse except silence – feeling your skin grow tight around your body, trying to contain anger that has become a family heirloom… generation to generation” she starts.

She goes on to name-check news stories we all know mononymously – Trayvon Martin, Charleston, Ferguson – while also referencing ‘strange fruit’, ‘police brutality’, ‘high rises’ and ‘low rents’; all phrases that say so much more than their two-word constructions might imply.

And yet there is a calm in her voice. Perhaps a consequence of years of being beaten down, perhaps a realisation that sometimes you have to speak more softly in order to make people listen more closely.

Either way, it is an eloquently-written, elegantly-made argument that is as timely as it is – sadly – as old as time itself.

Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts is to be released on 30 August through On The Corner Records.

MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX

BRITTANY HOWARD: HISTORY REPEATS
YOUNG PILGRIMS: CANAL TRIPPING
NEUE GRAFIK ENSEMBLE: HEDGEHOG’S DILEMMA
ZOE’S SHANGHAI: NO CURE

P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.

If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.

– SV –