Sekou Sundiata Longstoryshort

Ani DiFranco's label is certainly the best place for an explicitly political album to reside. Never mind that Sundiata used to one of Ani's professors - this man has certainly paid his dues as a professional musician. He first came to prominence with Dadahdoodahda, one of the original member bands of the Black Rock Coalition (with Living Colour, et al.). He released one solo album in 1997, distributed by Polygram, who were devoured later that year by Seagram, killing promotion of most of its lesser-known releases. With Longstoryshort a featured release on Righteous Babe, Sundiata can pull out all the stops verbally and conceptually. The danger of spoken word albums is that the musical backing can often be inferior to the vocal contribution. When this happens, all the best poetic intentions are undermined. Sundiata makes a couple of unconvincing groove attempts at the beginning of the disc as on the ingratiatingly sunny Afro-pop groove, "Mandela." Sundiata's low tenor voice is less commanding than preachy in these opening few cuts. When the music quiets down and becomes more freeform, his voice gets more space to determine the mood of the song. The density of his shifting rhyming scheme cuts deeper as the album wears on. His cutting criticisms of black self-perceptions are very successful on "Magic Bullet." On the whole, the music is too laid back for his poetry, which is unlikely to win him any G-funk converts. Get this man a remix! (Righteous Babe)