Back in 2020, Birmingham, Alabama artistic polymath Pink Siifu came through with a loud, experimental and striking album titled NEGRO. I was (and still am) enthralled and mesmerised by the project. It was such a departure of sound from his previous work – a stark and pulsating punk, jazz and experimental project that took inspiration from the likes of Sun Ra, Bad Brains and his contemporaries. I was left speechless upon first listen, enamored by the boldness and unfiltered energy Pink Siifu was able to bring along with the plethora of collaborators he worked with on the album. Producing himself as iiye, he also encouraged talented musicians like Roper Williams, Slauson Malone, Jeremiah Jae and Psychopop among others to create a sound that is harsh and abrasive, yet oddly melodic at times. The punk-like anger and energy throughout the first disc was unnerving and unsettling to listen to, a frantic and unapologetically honest album about the beauty and struggles of black folks in America, as well as an introspective one that gives us a better insight into Pink Siifu’s state of mind and feelings.
The second disc on the other hand, which consists of 20 tracks (expanding the full album to 40 tracks!), is much more mellow and calm that the first disc, which presents a welcome change of pace to the first half. With more of a focus on melody, keys, groovy basslines and soul, the album is a stellar addition to Pink Siifu’s discography. There are still angry, more dominant and dynamic moments on the project, but they are overshadowed by funky and soulful rhythms throughout. “BLACKISINFINITE BLACK ALIVE! spirit shop (understanding)” kicks the second disc off with a loud and drum-heavy free jazz composition that features Ignabu on drums, Chris Williams on trumpet, Grant Jefferson on guitar Parker McAllister on bass. It immerses you in his world immediately, and features samples and snippets of other sessions that enrich the overall sound of the track. “NEGRO FRIDAY” is produced by Ohbliv, who provided a soulful soundscape for Pink Siifu to speak his truth on. He also produced “fkthapolice[slumvillage tribute]”, a jittery, bass and drum-heavy track that speaks on the issues and anger around police violence. A standout track on the album is “numbers on yo head”, not only for Nicholas Craven’s exceptional beat, but also for the incredible billy woods feature, who time and time again delivers poignant and reflective verses, as with this one here. “BREATHE.birth” is a moody, ethereal and atmospheric track produced by iiye, while BLACKZ with Zeroh is a drum-heavy, high-energy track arranged by iiye and featuring drums by Blakhi and keys by Ahmad Kafari. There are a few live versions of tracks on the first disc. On “PRAY rehearsal” and “Nation Tyme rehearsal live” he brings live arrangements, with rhythmic drumming, guitars and emphatic vocals that add to the texture and mood of both tracks. “BLACKBETHAGOD!!!!!!!(culture,freedom.cipher), PSA 4 tha FOLKS” closes the track out with a very Neptunes-inspired beat. Their signature drumming style and patterns are replicated by Pink Siifu on a beat that brings crazy amounts of fired up energy that is just so infectious throughout. It’s quite a dominant and restless way to close a dynamic and eclectic project.
NEGRO DELUXE, especially the second side of music, brings more of a reflective and calming sound to the otherwise harsh and politically charged music. What I found so fascinating with NEGRO last year was just how unapologetic he was with creating a sound that is both challenging in its abrasiveness and boldness, and melodic and super reflective. The compositions throughout the second side of the album feel more textured and carefully arranged, with Pink Siifu offering a different side and sound to the first 20 tracks on the project. And while I didn’t touch on quite a few tracks on the album, they’re all incredibly composed and arranged, and even I’m digesting and appreciating everything with each and every listen. It comes to show how expansive his sound and influences really are, being among one of the most eclectic and important artists of this generation. His talents, both as a poet and producer / arranger, are incredibly valuable. The more I listen to NEGRO DELUXE, the more I pick up on the nuances and intricacies within the project, and as an album from start to finish, it is a truly flawless body of work that showcases his talents in full. So definitely go support!