Nite Bjuti – Illustrious Negro Dead
Fitting neatly into the Vodka mold of “music that isn’t the same old thing, mostly…” this cross-genre, spoken word offering from Nite Bjuti’s forthcoming (April 14) LP hits the nail squarely on the head. Says lead singer Candice Hoyes, the song:
“reclaims this impassioned plea that dignity and legacy of Black artists not die in ‘conspicuous forgetfulness’ as Black people of all nations continue to face state-sanctioned racial violence and hegemonic occupation in Haiti and throughout the Diaspora,”
Let’s face it: This isn’t just a problem in Haiti. We see the effects of racist violence throughout the world and the United States, whether it relates to the failure to recognize black artists or the violence that has been focused on black people by police and others.
Musically, Illustrious Negro Dead plays within the jazz-meets-electronica space. The spoken word lyrics are often tweaked electronically to give them a more haunting feel and to add emphasis. Instrumentation is sparse otherwise, with the bass and drum predominant. This minimalistic approach allows the lyrics to punch out to the forefront, always the most important element. In short, Illustrious Negro Dead will not be denied its message!
And what of the lyric? The group draws inspiration from the words of Zora Neale Hurston’s impassioned letter to W. E. B. DuBois in 1945, which (mostly) went unanswered. Hurston was a literary pioneer and anthropologist, who dedicated her life to studying black culture, while DuBois was a sociologist, historian, author, editor, and activist, who shared, among other things, in the creation of the NAACP. Both were forces to be reconned with, but the two did not always come to terms with each other. Hurston was critical of Dubois’s leadership, however, she was critical of ALL leadership, so it is perhaps no surprise that DuBois did not properly respond to her letter. In any case, it is this letter the lyrics for Illustrious Negro Dead give inspiration. Since this is a music review, I encourage you to do a search for the letter and study it.
Nite Bjuti is Candice Hoyes (vocalist/sampler controller), Val Jeanty (percussionist/beatmaker), and Mimi Jones (double bassist). You can more information on the group by visiting their website which includes a nice biography, a link to their Instagram account, photos, and more.
Illustrious Negro Dead is a powerful track, experimental in nature, that drives home the plight of black persons and artists. It is well worth listening to. In fact, this track demands that once you start listening, you continue to the end. Look for the full-length from Nite Bjuti on April 14!