Add-2’s “Jim Crow: The Musical” Is A Stunning Concept Album With A Message. Listen In.
In a year that’s already seen some incredible albums, another chapter has been written in the book of 2019. Chicago’s own Add-2 (also known as Andre Daniels) follows up his acclaimed 2015 release Prey For The Poor with a conceptual, timely, and socially conscious effort titled Jim Crow: The Musical.
The 19-track, 57-minute audio adventure (narrated by actor Kadeem Hardison) takes listeners up-and-down the Mason-Dixon line with songs that touch on subjects relevant to Black people in America. The veteran lyricist opens in such a theatrical way, similar to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, where you have no choice but to lock yourself in and get ready for the ride.
Self-produced by Add-2, Jim Crow: The Musical offers life lessons that cover topics such as self-determination (“Git Your Hand Out My Pocket”), Black Love (“Jump the Broom,”), how to maneuver the streets (“Young Ni**as”), and staying alive (“Hashtag”). In an age where we’re reading stories — almost in real-time — about people of color being murdered by the police, vilified in the media, and condemned by politicians, Add-2’s contribution serves as a balm on an open wound.
Powered by a speech about love by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, “Nappy Hair” takes the idea of hair care to another level. As a metaphor for being “rooted” in a relationship, Add-2 rhymes on the chorus, “I ain’t going nowhere / Girl, I want and need and love your nappy hair,” which proudly emboldens the idea of Black beauty. With special guests Sam Trump, Elisa Latrice, and K.Love featured on the track, the quartet shows love to all of the “split ends’ by lacing coiffured-color rhymes over a simple synth-and-keytar powered cut that would make India.Arie proud.
Despite being the last song on Jim Crow: The Musical, “Soul Searching,” which features Latin soul and Jazz singer Natalie Oliveri, channels J Dilla’s “Fall In Love” to channel Add-2’s vision of ghetto art actualized. It is on this song he shares just how far ahead of the rest of the Rap game he is, while expounding on the “fake wokeness” that goes on within the industry. The subtle piano keys help Add-2 to hone in and reflect using his “Dave Chappelle, fresh-from-Africa flow” to find his soul. The quotables alone are worthy enough to add to anyone’s vision board to use as motivation for 2020.
Little Brother’s Phonte recites a well-known James Baldwin quote to introduce “Back In The Day,” which also features Oliv Blu and Brittney Carter on the track. “My family tree was uprooted by Uncle Sam,” is a very telling line given today’s political climate, and yet Add-2 adds a personal touch to it by revealing his own wishes to be a kid again. Re-purposing elements of Ahmad’s 25-year-old chorus from “Back In The Day,” this song has enough motivational lines for you and yours to ensure the next generation will have game for more than a hundred summers.
A prime moment in Jim Crow: The Musical comes on “3 Fifs,” which features Accapella, and uses the viral video of white doctor Jeffrey Epstein “being treated like a Black person” during an arrest at Orlando International Airport. Baldwin’s speech about Malcolm X and “moral monsters” sets the scene for Add-2’s tale on how Black people deal with PTSD from a life of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and witnessing Black lives not matter in today’s world. “See the lawless make the law, so all the fallen take the fall,” highlights Add-2’s mark as a respected voice of clarity amid the chaotic world. As someone who really cares about the culture and about uplifting people of color, Jim Crow: The Musical is an exhibition in flat-out raw rhyming and beckons immediate playing.
Press photo by Sir Taylor provided by Add-2.