Pink Siifu’s latest release, GUMBO!, is another sprawling Afrocentric vision from one of the boldest voices in contemporary rap. Following up on 2020’s NEGRO, a genre-bending exploration of Black rage in the face of racist oppression, the album’s songs are as rich and varied as its titular stew. Siifu’s boundless style makes for an unpredictable but rewarding ride across the album’s 18 tracks, as he explores the diverse sounds of his influences and breaks new ground with a unique class of co-stars.
Siifu, born Livingston Matthews and raised between Alabama and Cincinnati, has already notched a conspicuous list of collaborations in his burgeoning career, from legendary producer the Alchemist to Australian electronic group the Avalanches. These collabs reflect the ravenous appetite which informs his various musical approaches and lines his projects with homages to other artists.
Accompanying NEGRO was the website negro.life, featuring a manifesto for the album with flowers to rap/punk rock duo Ho9909 and Black Arts Movement vanguard Amiri Baraka. A month after the release of the 40-track NEGRO DELUXE, Siifu released a short film with nods to Afrofutrists Outkast and Sun Ra.
Siifu also embodies these various inspirations through a range of alter-egos, often producing under the moniker “iiye,” or as half of the duo B. Cool-Aid with Ahwlee, both of which appear on GUMBO!. Their appearance on the production credits only highlights the load of features — both on vocal and production — that make up the album.
“Voicemails Uptown” (produced by Soulection’s Monte Booker) is the second of two back-to-back posse cuts, sporting 5+ vocalists each. While the track opens on a sunny blend of electronic whines, it cuts halfway through into a greasy-snared funk with a grooving chorus to match.
“Lng hair dnt care,” the album’s first single, was produced by Ted Kamal, who first garnered attention for his outside-the-box edits of contemporary rap staples. The song’s instrumental beat-switches into a watery, distorted version of itself, reminiscent of both Kamal’s famous edits as well as the lo-fi beats on Siifu’s breakout, ensley.
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