new music: abdu ali’s ‘mongo’ is a mantra of black queer strength #soundcheck

April 29, 2016

It seems almost unfair to write about Abdu Ali’s latest release after only a week. This is the sort of shit people will be writing dissertations about in 20 years. The density of sound and ideas is staggering. There’s a lot to unpack. Listening to MONGO is like injecting bell hooks directly into your brain. Listening to MONGO is like spending a night inside Miles Davis’ trumpet. Listening to Mongo is like suspending time in a computer crash. It’s also not like those things at all. It’s also not like anything else.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK contributor

Recorded over the course of a crisis of going on, the mixtape is simultaneously defiantly triumphant and completely lost. That tension defines the mixtape, whose paranoid production is constantly pulling itself apart almost to the brink of self-destruction before re-coalescing into something new. Abdu Ali conjures the fire of HR for “Take Me to Da Wata,” on a tape that’s often more industrial punk than rap. “Im Alive (Humanized)” and “How? (Keep Fighting)” are the tentpoles; mantras of black queer strength repeated with increasing urgency; a desperate plea for answers that simultaneously summons its own answer.

MONGO changes up production, from Pangelica, JPEGMAFIA, Dj Haram, Gobby, Mighty Mark, Mr. 14th, Butch Dawon, Mental Jewelry, and Abdu Ali himself, track to track. But the sound is cohesively self-deconstructively glitchy, guided by a commitment to avoiding easy answers or beats that exist in only 4 dimensions. String theory physicists are still looking for some of the dimensions occupied here.

i wanted to give up. ovah and ovah again. why? look at me, then look at the world i live. you see what im saying? life for me, aint been no crystal stair. do i even have a life? do i own one? i got a lot of debt. broke af, cant really obtain the wealth america promised me. am i here? is my life alive?

i believe i do have a life because…i cant give up. esp after witnessing the shade of it all in my city, post freddie gray’s death. vividly i saw through that moment and still what i see today, are the attacks from media, all the systems, and the white hooded neighbors…is something that can really bring a bitch down. so im surprised by the fact that i am still here. after the shade of it all, i still rise. Maya Angelou, is that you?

something in me. the fire inside that makes me feel like no road cant be unconquered. what is that? i say its my mother’s hand, my lineage, my ancestors. the voodoo. the music. the music keeps me alive. the drums, the beat, and voices, (that cant ever be mimicked). my genetically passed down unbothered mien to be so me. to be black. even after being bleached a thousand times. my blood aint sterile. that pain i felt last april provoked the energy, the fire, to rage a bit more. my vision became a bit more focused. so my music became more and my performances became more. this mixtape, MONGO is who i am and what i am for what i be. its only for us. Mongo, I consider to be the blk self care mixtape consists of: Anthems Mantras & Narratives. Fela, Marvin, Nina, Lauryn, Tupac, Octavia E. Butler, and Miss Tony, I see what y’all was saying now. I know what I gotta do. I just gotta do me through us. The revolution is not just communal, it can also be an individual protest through thy work, sweat, or screams. Energy is infectious like the many systematic diseases that plagued our people. Teach one, teach all. also our other experiences are worthy to be art, our love trials, being queer and black, missing our deceased loved ones, or consuming the fruits of the green, because the self care is important. all of that deserves a song too. but I still don’t know what it is that keeps my fist up, my hair nappy, and my skin so gold. but what i do kno is that me and u gonna get thru this. for some reason we have to. Is it just justice? is it the return of the black gods? deep down we know they will be back. cause one thing is for sure, the sun don’t hurt me none. RIP PRINCE (CONTROVERSY IS THE REASON WHY I THOUGHT I COULD MAKE MUSIC). – ABDU AL

Credit: Elliott Brown Jr.