Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.


abdu ali pushes us forward with new album, fiyah!!

April 19, 2019
87 Picks

There are some burns we must never forget. Some things that end or hurt can’t be denied, but must be considered. The burn of losing the literary magazine Fire!! that came to materialization during the Harlem Renaissance and included furious thoughts and offerings that were as militant as they were provocative, and featured some of the premiere Black writers of the era is one burn that has never healed completely for me. In an effort to remember this particularly legendary moment (and loss)  in Black cultural production — this burn — Black queer auteur and multidisciplinary artist, Abdu Ali, brings us a conceptual music project called FIYAH!!

The name change is appropriate and serves as a perfect description of the work FIYAH!! looks to do: capture the provocative and emotional voice produced in the literary magazine, but inside of music all while combining it with Abdu Ali’s love affair with punk, jazz, hip-hop, and the various sounds native in their hometown of Baltimore. FIYAH!! is riddled with brilliant sonic moments like “Spiraling” that feels like part Sun Ra jam session, ballroom chat, and spiritual chant; “Da Won” is a electric-punk explosion that manages to keep its wit in the lyrics and how Ali manipulates their voice, while still honoring the song’s menacing, post-apocalyptic production.

FIYAH!! is a Black queer revelation. It’s as much art viewing as it is music listening; the concepts being held in the project are taken just as seriously as the melodies. This will surely be seen as another powerful contribution to the Black creative canon, and this time, nobody can burn it down.