I say I don’t like surprises, but I live for twists and turns in music. Flourishes, hooks, complicated key changes—when done well, they always give me a rush.
That said, many of the albums I’ve heard this year have been so run-of-the-mill. When I can predict a song’s rhymes and drum fills, I wonder at the wasted potential; art is supposed to transcend somehow, right?
ZULUZULUU’s What’s the Price does just that. Eclipsing the ordinary, it brings together funk, hip-hop, Afrobeat, and more, drawing fans of Thundercat as easily as it does Daft Punk devotees. But even with so many influences and musical elements, it feels like more of a seven-course dinner than a genre stew.
From the soulful vocals on “Black Maybe” to the electric guitar solo on “Fall Behind,” Greg Grease, DJ Just Nine, MMYYKK, Proper-T, ∆RT P∆RTE, and Trelly Mo are brilliantly expressive. They’ve opened for Femi Kuti and played a Philando Castile benefit, and they’re getting ready for a busy fall of shows.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about “courageous”—how “cor” as an Old French root word means that “heart” is embedded in the word. There is no bravery without emotional honesty, if we go by the word—no heroism without inner strength. In our militarized world, ZULUZULUU are courageous to me, pouring their creativity and boldness into an album with cast iron’s strength.
During this past month, if you sat with me while I made breakfast in the morning, you’d hear What’s the Price on my counter stereo. If you rode in my car during errands, you’d hear “Fades” on repeat. If you were wondering what my headphones were bumping while I cried over Philando Castile’s death, this was the album. Wherever I’ve been, What’s the Price has been there with me, and I can’t thank ZULUZULUU enough.
To more courageous art.