Moor Mother Seahorse Tavern, Halifax NS, May 26
Published May 27, 2017Philadelphia's Camae Ayewa demands attention. And respect. With an introduction delivered over a stomach-curdling drone that suggests, "if you are here to talk to your friend you haven't seen for a while, go the fuck upstairs. If you are here to record me, you aren't at the show." And so it goes. As Moor Mother, Ayewa delivers an unabashed performance that mixes hip-hop, spoken word and an awareness of our current state of affairs viewed through a historical lens of race oppression. Is it heavy-handed? Oh gosh, yes! Is it effective? Usually. With pieces punctuated by brief interludes by everything from politicians to vintage Nina Simone, Moor Mother's musical accompaniment is a mutilated machinery of beats that weld together a funky bounce and a jittery post-Aphex unease all thumped down onto a cavernous and quasi-Gregorian drone of tones. To call it visceral is an understatement. Though it could be seen as a pastiche of things already and previously well-represented, Ayewa's message is thrown at the crowd with such assuredness and menace who would have the balls to deny it?