PREMIERE: Sons of Kemet’s New Album Celebrates Black Queens, Beginning with Harriet Tubman
By Sound Check
February 8, 2018
Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, who graced the stage at AFROPUNK Brooklyn in 2017, is one of the rising stars of a great young jazz scene currently blossoming in London. But just a single listen to “My Queen is Harriet Tubman,” the first track released from Your Queen Is a Reptile, the upcoming album by his group, Sons of Kemet, is enough to make clear that his idea of jazz is not that of your parents. Powered by two drummers, Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick, and pinched along by Theon Cross’ tuba, the song is a high-flying soca anthem as performed by a jazz group, and an apt entry-point into the album.
Your Queen Is a Reptile consists of nine tracks, each dedicated to a different Black queen, some historically famous, others’ personally important to Hutchings, a Brit of Barbadian descent. We asked him about the title of the album and about some of the women he cites – check AFROPUNK’s Instagram for the other queens – and this is what he said.
“The title, My Queen is Reptile, for me, is a provocation to think about what your queen is. It’s trying to inspire a dialog about women who inspire us, who lead us. When you think of women leaders, you think of nurturers, protectors, of queen mothers, which is all so interesting because…a lot of the women I’m citing on the album are leaders of anti-imperialist movements or leaders of resistance, which you normally think about in a male capacity. You normally think of liberation and arms struggle as being the man’s role, and the woman supports, whereas there have been many occasions where the women have been on the forefront.”
Your Queen is a Reptile is out on Impulse! in early April.