Although my rebellious spirit is something rather fierce, I must admit – Occupy Toronto did not occupy my mind. Instead, I was running around frantically at work, a kitchen, ignoring the Occupy movement on the TV overhead, tooling for the cery same economic system they were protesting against.
But I was there in spirit!
For I was celebrating my own by Ian Kamau’s new release, One Day Soon, singing to myself songs of redemption and hope amidst the madness.
West African for ‘blessing’, the uplifting intro track, ‘Ngozi’ camouflages as an electric ambient album of sorts. But let’s not be hasty. As the lush textures of synths toil and fade into the second track, the beat kicks in opening with the words, “I am a new kind of human being.”
Do you feel yourself transforming?
With lyrics as thoughtful as, “They say faith is the death of my ambitions / I know faith is the depth of a man’s mission,” or wordplay as playful as “flies in the fibbers of spiders webs,” on paper along you get a sense that this is a man with soul and clout, with a majestic so humble that he’s got nothing to prove, and everything to show.
This masterpiece is truly a journey of emotions, carrying extra weight with his soulful song-song style rather than shotgunning woods one after another – maybe that’s due to his Trinidadian background. And despite his laid back approach, he’s able to keep things interesting with touching narratives, genius choruses, enriching interludes and guests, as well as varied styles of rap. ‘Black Bodies’, for example, is a good counterweight to the album; it is our modern prophet on the offensive, with a distressful chorus where he explicitly makes a reference to ‘Strange Fruit’ by Billie Holiday.
Nostalgic without being sappy, infectious but not annoying, and motivating but not pushy, Kamau certainly knows how to come to a happy medium. Check out ‘Now that I’m Alone’ for a prime example.
Nevermind that he is self-produced. Or that he’s genuine (he includes a personally written thank-you card upon online ordering of the album). Credit is really due to his ingenuity as an artist and musician, delighting himself in subtleties that resound, with his incredible mastery of electronic sounds to bring forth a feel so organic and roosty that puts him up there with Bob Marley. Yet this is new, this is hip, and those who know will, without a doubt, hop onto the hype.
One Day Soon would easily have been the soundtrack to the international Occupy movements, if only his hubris had kicked in to grab the money.
Art without marketing.
What a cool guy.