Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “The B.A.D. Is So Good” by Seattle’s Chimuregna Renaissance from the 2014 album riZe vadZimu riZe on Brick Lane Records.
Since the inception of Shabazz Palaces, and with the release of Black Up on Sub Pop and the forthcoming, highly-anticipated Lese Majesty, Tendai “Baba” Maraire and Ishmael Butler have been receiving a lot of positive press for their involvement in the experimental rap scene. They’ve also both have been involved with other projects around town. Maraire’s current project, Chimurenga Reaissance, for which he teamed up with Hussein Kalonji, recently released riZe vadZimu riZe, a beautifully produced, African-influenced rap album, featuring guest appearances from Dead Prez member M1 along with Maraire’s Shabazz Palaces partner, Palaceer Lazaro (Ishmael Butler). On the Chimurenga Resistance debut album, Pungwe, Maraire and Kalonji combined synthesizers and samples with traditional Zimbabwean instruments like ngoma drums and mbira thumb pianos, popularizing their developing sound. On this year’s riZe vadZimu riZe, the two spheres of influence are still present, but work as if in conjunction with each other, creating tension as the album moves forward. Lyrically, Maraire is characterized by his political statements, and juxtaposition of ideas. “The B.A.D. Is So Good,” the second track on riZe vadZimu riZe, is a socio-cultural critique, commenting on the status of the American Dream. Throughout “The B.A.D. Is So Good,” lyrics like, “We all get high cause we all are fiends / Gangsters hustle cause we all have needs / The world’s gone crazy cause we all want cheese / So live that life of pussy, coke, and weed,” outline Maraire’s philosophy of what he terms, “the Black American Dream.” Weaving together the lyricism of traditional gangster rap music and instrumental Zimbabwean undertones, Chimurenga Renaissance invent something entirely their own.
Chimurenga Renaissance recently performed live at the Columbia City Theater in Seattle. They have no upcoming events scheduled yet, but look for updates on their website and Facebook page. For now, check out this trippy full album video preview of riZe vadZimu riZe, filmed and edited by Maraire after a trip to Zimbabwe: