McKinley Dixon’s New Album!
Jazz is underused often in today’s music. Its unpredictable beats give new listeners an old-fashioned experience. This sound has been making an uprise in rap since Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly. Today, there’s McKinley Dixon. The artist hails from Richmond, Virgina with a desire to bring the Black experience to new ears. His new album For My Mama & Anyone Who Look Like Her is a fresh take, speaking out to the culture and for the culture.
Dixon is representing an ideal African-American musician for all ages. He described music as a dimension of time-travel, furthering to an idea that time is nonlinear. In this case, his music beholds a sense of timelessness. This permits jazz to be the primary sound of the album. Like time, jazz is altogether unpredictable yet a fun experience. Its authentic sound can make it fit in both a 1920s Harlem cabaret and a 2020s Spotify playlist. He is not only reaching out to a current African-American audience, but to every generation of African-American audiences.
“Chain Sooo Heavy” is a track that can be traced back to Dixon’s “Audiotree Live Session” from 2018. Soon, it would become the song to set the tone for this album. In time’s past, the “chain” could relate to the pre-Civil War era of America. For today, it could represent the jewelry that glimmers around someone’s neck. The chain overall represents power and a burden, with Dixon saying in the first verse, “We orchestrate the way that we live/ Maneuver through the pain that they give”.
“Bless The Child” serves as a meditation of time. Dixon is talking to his friend he lost in 2018. This song is travelling through three different memories, each one with their own rhythm in the song. A memory has its own vibrations and he plays towards that scientific idea through his creative storytelling. The parade of rhythms is a stellar standout in the album. While the music is timeless, so is his love for his friend.
There is a complex narrative in the album’s experience. Dixon is honing in his love for novelist Toni Morrison and expressing the complexities of racial inequality in today’s America. He applies double-consciousness into the story, following the hardships of the black communities and his blackness. However, he embraces this and uses it as a tool for great art.
The tone of the album is soothing and unpredictable. “protective styles” is calm and bluesy with a spiritual message, while “Swangin’” is upbeat and vibes like a summer anthem. The jazz music speaks to the rhythms of BadBadNotGood and Dixon’s lyrics preach like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
Dixon’s Bigger Picture
As much as music is its own medium, this album crosses between a novelistic narrative and a Black modernism painting. Dixon is telling listeners that there is a large, visual and complex picture in his music. The timeline of the Black perspective is a portrait with a certain message. For My Mama & Anyone Who Look Like Her identifies with this message and spreads it through love, spirituality and moral wisdom. He is using rap to communicate the complexities of reality.
The journey packed into this album shows a development for rap music. The music comes from the streets with love for the communities. This love comes from the inclusion of jazz. He and every contributor to the album deserve praise for their distinct approach to inspiring and empowering today’s African-American communities. Dixon is a musician to keep on the radar for years to come.
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