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Georgia Anne Muldrow/Dudley Perkins - Black Love & War Music Album Reviews

Equal parts manifesto and critique, the pair’s third musical collaboration pays homage to the sound and radical spirit of their West Coast home.

To be black in America is to live a divided existence, straddling a glorious yet fractured past, the unfulfilled promise of the future, and a present that has never truly belonged to us. But the philosophy of Afrofuturism has given countless black artists and thinkers the ability to “time travel,” exploring the intersectionality of race, politics, science, and technology across genres in as yet impossible ways. Coined by writer Mark Dery in a 1993 essay, Afrofuturism empowered black artists not only to reimagine the world in which they lived—one predicated on racism—but to reclaim identity by controlling our narrative. In Afrofuturist tradition, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins use their third collaboration, Black Love & War (released under the moniker “G&D”), to collide past and future in an alternate universe.

Equal parts manifesto and critique, Black Love & War implores listeners to rage against the machine—namely, an administration that brands a predominantly black city as “rat infested.” From the echoing refrain of retribution that seeks “death to all oppressors” on “187” to the proclamation of love in the face of a dystopian society on “P.A.L,” Muldrow and Perkins root their work in the present by paying homage to the sound and radical spirit of their West Coast home.

As parents themselves, Muldrow and Perkins have no hesitation about serving as mentors for younger generations. Certain tracks feel as though they were created especially for their children: “Hold on tight to your dreams and don’t you ever let them go,” Muldrow counsels on “The Power of Your Brain.” On “Peace Peace,” Perkins delivers a prophetic freestyle, warning his newborn son of rampant police brutality. He exploits the entendre—“peace” and “piece”—from the very first lines: “Welcome to the world son, now run/Police gotta a gun.”

Like their forebears in the ’70s funk group Parliament Funkadelic, Muldrow and Perkins relish the absurd, using sketches like “English Breakfast” to fuse music and theatrical narrative to cast a surreal light on injustice. On “Slave Revolt Soundtrack,” the slave characters murder the plantation owner and return “home,” speaking once again in their native African tongues. Inversely, lead single “Where I’m From” allow Muldrow and Perkins to proclaim their Africanness while living in modern-day America. Taking their cue from the Mothership Connection, they look to the past with reverence, navigating an uncertain future while remaining unapologetically themselves.

The album’s second half shifts from strife to affection, a jump so immense that, on first listen, one might almost overlook the “love” side of Black Love & War. Highlights include “Fruitful” and “Big Mel,” where Muldrow’s sublimely minimalist production allow her powerful words to rise above the mix. Closing with these two songs instills hope that love is real—and more importantly, that in spite of our past struggles, black people are entitled to experience the full gamut of their humanity, right here in the actual present.

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