Reviews

Moor Mother
Jazz Codes

(Anti)

8/10

Moor Mother constructs music according to her own temporospatial logic. The rapper, musician, poet and activist (real name: Camae Ayewa) is a uniquely free creative, unburdened by the restrictions of form or genre. Her lyrics uncouple the knotty intersections of personal and political histories, while her music drifts through noise, jazz, rap, electronica and beyond. She possesses an almost mystical ability to pluck ideas from the ether, where they’re then opened up and decoded. 

Jazz Codes sees Ayewa’s artistic antenna picking up some especially serene signals. These 20 sprawling tracks are built around production by the Falmouth-based Olof Melander, leaning on loose, textured jazz and soulful contemporary hip hop. Tracks like ‘April 7th’, ‘Woody Shaw’ and ‘Rap Jasm’ employ warm, Dilla-esque beats which, bolstered by the interwoven patchwork of guest features, makes for some of the most approachable music ever released under the Moor Mother name. 

However, the album’s key reference point, as specifically invoked by Ayewa, is free jazz. She cites the genre’s non-linear approach to time as an influence on the music’s unbound metres, as well as her lyrics concerned with the slippery echoes of history. Album centrepiece ‘Meditation Rag’ sees Ayewa’s free-association poetry pair up images of southern states and jazz legends next to spectral “screams of justice”. This hauntological quality adds pointed depth to Jazz Codes, an album that possesses a genuine air of the transcendental.

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