With a message planted in the conscious lyrics of late 1980s New York hip-hop and beats stuck firmly in diverse-as-hell Long Beach, The Natives is The International City's contemporary answer to groups like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.
Though The Natives' new album–Last of The Natives, out today on Porch Party Records–doesn't even begin to touch the original Native Tongue Posse's timeless knack for layered sampling (nor is there a chorus on the whole thing), it still follows DNA strands through two generations of musical evolution, giving Afrofuturism a lyrical update over splayed out electronic beach beats that could only be rap fodder for SoCal kids.
Hip hop is my racquet, I treat it like a McEnroe/I beat the only black guy up at the rapper show
Across nine original tracks (four songs on the album are actually audio samples from movies that drop some heavy sociological thoughts into the mix) the duo of DJ Gerrath McDaniels and MC Nativethoughts (aka Senay Kenfe) create a new world order of conscious hip hop, one that eschews constant jazz samples, overproduction and speed-demon flows for a more laid back–Long Beach–approach to dissecting race, class and pop culture in our modern world.
Lastof the Natives is a long-time-coming extension of Kenfe's daily life, which if you follow him on Facebook or attend his frequent local shows (some at the Porch Party house), you'd know is a rare opportunity to think about what it means to be black or white, poor or rich, from here or from there in a West Coast world that purports to be post-everything.
In his daily photos, astute musings and posts, Kenfe (whose dad is from Eritrea) doesn't try to provide answers to our society's shittier realities, he just invites you to follow his lead as he explores the bizarrities of L.A. public transit, drinks his daily Martinelli's apple cider, tries to align his African heart with his Western mind, and comes up with cheeky rhymes about Fukashima fish, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sean Kemp and cholas "with dem penciled on eyebrows."
Black Wall Street, my style ain't a rental/I got my own insurance, got my own dental
By playing shows with everyone from indie rock bands to mellow singer-songwriters to the latest and greatest gangster freestylers, The Natives have earned a steady and diverse following in both Long Beach and L.A. Expect more from the LBC's own Native Tongue Posse. Open minds necessary.
Stream Last of the Natives here and order the vinyl at porchpartyrecords.bandcamp.com