Monday, November 3, 2008

Yo Majesty- Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid Review

Yo Majesty

Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid
Domino Records

Black, Christian, lesbian rappers from Tampa, Florida? A distinctive description of Yo Majesty made up of Shunda K. (Lashunda Flowers) and Jwl B. (Jewel Baynham). Until recently the project had a third member, Shon B. (Shon Burt) who is no longer apart of the collaboration. The hip-hop duo released their first EP in 2006 and toured alongside CSS and The Gossip in 2007. Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid is the duo’s first full length album. Yo Majesty formed six years ago when gospel singer Baynham met Flowers, a track star turned rapper, at a gay club in Tampa. Despite broking up for several years, during which Baynham renounced her homosexuality, married a man after a tryst with Islam, later to divorce and reclaim her lesbian identity, Yo Majesty has populated a significant underground following. A blender puree of Missy Elliot, 2 Live Crew and Salt & Pepper, the gutter mouth duo spit filthy tunes about “getting your ass on the floor” and “busting out windshields.” A hip hop party ghetto electro party up debut, Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid encompasses a ‘futuristically speaking’ out of this world sound with its oozy beats, electro riffs and infectious bass lines.
The album’s aggressive opener “Fucked up,” merits an immediately effective restraining order. Seemingly, a contradictive masochistic love song which suggests schizophrenic manic desires in a love/hate relationship. An irate Shunda K bawls “I can’t live without you, so, do you want to fight me/ because I want to fight, fight you. I want to break all the shit in your bathroom.” Snarling mike in mouth she declares “I can’t stand the way you breathe, but I like the way you fuck me,” and inquires, “you want me to get away from house? Love you!! You want me to get away from your car? Love you!! You want me to get away from your dog? Love you!!” Title track, “Never Be Afraid,” is a catchy synth-and-percussion beat groove which reiterates the lyrics ‘we will never be afraid, we will never be afraid, we will never be afraid,’ over and over before, within, during and throughout the speed rap. Reminiscent of something Missy Elliot has produced, the album’s dance-y bump and grind track, “Club Action,” effortlessly incorporates F-Bomb bleeps and demands the listener “to fuck that shit.” The funky “Party Hardy” follows suit with the progression of the party-starter album and serves as a perfect ‘get up and dance’ tune. A stand out track for me, I can’t help but sing along every time I hear it--“I really want to go to the party, yo, I got a flat tire and my gas is low.”“Booty Clap” is a fast paced electro-infused tune produced by critically acclaimed UK House duo Basement Jaxx. The apt wordsmiths demonstrate their tongue-twist abilities in the concluding track “Take It Away,” amidst the energetic Miami bass and old school 8-bit beats. A ‘G-rated’ version of the punchy, X-rated lyrically driven album seems implausible - even without lyrics, the beats and bass lines remain excitingly dirty. In doing initial research on the band, it’s been mentioned by several music sources and blogs that while Yo Majesty’s in studio work is good, their live performances are even better! Their boisterous and unruly stage presence is worth every cent of the admission price.

Highlight Track: “Club Action” Track 11

Album Grade: 7/10 (increments of .5)

Ashley Cass