Recently, I seem to be reviewing a lot of stuff totally out of my comfort zone and this album by Linqua Franqa is in that ballpark.
I really am no big rap or hip hop fan so having an album of female Rap hip hop to review is not easy. Thankfully for me, this album may well be one of the albums of the year so let me Mansplain this album from the point of view of a white geezer in his 50s.
The artwork takes it right back to the 1920's with the classic head in a portrait frame design with titling above and below. It's an eye catching take as Linqua Franqa looks like she's letting out one hell of a note in a totally righteous fashion.
Up close bursts out of the speakers as Linqua Franqa raps at hyper-speed she lays out her world full of adderall and weed and the world falling apart as she stumbles around looking out of it, yet really out of it.
Eight Weeks slows things down but not much as her drug use gets discussed over slow lazy spaghetti western jazz samples. It's like a love letter to The pills she needs and she's falling pregnant while out of it. Should you get an abortion or not and if you do will you ever talk about it or is it just another day?
Midnight Oil is like an old blues but with weird samples as she recovers from a binge to lay down how she expects to recover so she can watch cat videos instead of protesting. Will she beat the demons with her beats? Well damn the girl (or Mariah Parker as her folks might call her(, she has got some serious lyrical flow that leaves me wondering if she goes Zoom or Zoot after snorting that pill. I do hope she's a real Zoots type of gal.
Breathe In is a brief interlude of heavy breathing and recovery (or inhalation from a bong?) before she moves on to The Con And The Can, with some cool Bass and brass over which the rap unfolds and we get told how she'll even eat vegetables to get right. Yeah right. It also sounds like it would work with a Transglobal Underground style re-mix. Not that there is a thing wrong with this mix as it stands.
The Good Feels is angry at being at the bottom and how do you get to make things better. It plays out over a piano house-style sample and Linqua raps over it at twice the pace of the piano. Yes she's the nerd you've heard all right in a great Valley girl style.
Breathe Out is an very short celebration of how you feel after breathing out a huge cloud of smoke before it leads into Gold Bike, which has the trombone sample to die for as she Raps over all sorts of alphabet soup. Damn this should be a huge hit totally worldwide. It's Kinda like a female fronted A Tribe Called Quest.
The B-side opens with Raw that features Wesdaruler as the object of Linqua's desire. She over achieves with her boasts and toasts that he then counters to know they have the raw life over woozy string-laden beats which sound like they come with one of those videos with the cars that hop up and down to the beat of the Raw life.
We then get 2 mixes of My Civilian Life. The first Wesdaruler mix has the nasty street tale that could have been so Beautiful but turns suicidal rapped over flute-led Gil Scott Heron-inspired music. The dysfunction between the music and the words works really well with some drum and bass style punctuation marks between what went right and wrong.
The dope knife part of the mix is more drum and bass with the piano house element and yet brings the vocals more up front and could almost be remixed into a Victoria Spivey blues tale of life in the streets seen through Langston Hughes street tale style rap. I really love the jazz elements of the music as it disintegrates and the track ends with the end of Linqua's Rap.
Midnight Oil Wesdaruler mix leaves a piano house-style sample to tinkle in the left speaker while the rap about adderall and other drugs unfolds without any house beats but just some skittery drums and percussion. The slowed down middle bit is great as it really matches the lyrical content really well.The Heartbeat style bass pulse as she figures out how out of it she's going to get chasing the next high like feels like she's in a Pam Grier film.
Gold Bike, the acapella mix, is really soulful and stripped back with the story really hitting home more than with the trombone blasting at you. It's also the perfect template for anyone wanting to do their own mix around it.
I've had to play this album a lot to let it get inside me and so I can hear the raps and listen to the words properly and the repeated listening pays off as it's grown on me. Linqua Franqa deserves to break out huge if this album is anything to go by.
Linqua Franqa Facebook page