Ah, Shabaka. The workaholic, the virtuoso, the maestro. Always moving, always creating, always brilliant. Shabaka Hutchings, take a bow.
This year it’s the turn of Sons Of Kemet. The album – a protest album no less – is entitled Black To The Future. Watcha protesting about, Shabaka? Well, how about centuries of inequality and discrimination? With the murder of George Floyd fresh in everyone’s memory, Black To The Future proudly proclaims, “we’re not gonna take it anymore”.
This is Shabaka’s grandest project. Dark, ominous and gargantuan, it will swallow you whole. It’s a proper album, with a consistent them and a persistent narrative, structured methodically around a central axis known as The Source.
Sons of Kemet, of course, are so much more than just Shabaka. There is the tuba of Theon Cross, bringing bucketloads of personality and originality. Percussionists Eddie Hick and Tom Skinner are masters of their craft. The quartet are augmented on this collection with a host of outstanding colaborators, including D Double E, Lianne La Havas, Moor Mother, Angel Bat Dawid and Kojay Radical.
Upon its release in May I was certain that Black To The Future would be my album of the year. I said as much in my piece for Louder Than War. Then, in September, something else came along. But that’s a story for tomorrow.