Thums Up is one of those projects that has floated around for a little while but I've yet to hear but sound like so awesome a configuration that I would leap at them the moment recorded work came to light. I've always been extremely excited to hear the work of the collective pianist Vijay Iyer, guitarist Rafiq Bhatia, drummer Kassa Overall, and rapper Himanshu Suri (aka Heems of Swet Shop Boys, formerly of Das Racist) named after the Indian soda. Now, Ccurtesy of WQXR New York, check out a set the quartet recorded this past weekend at the Ecstatic Music Festival to affirm that this project is as badass as one would imagine these four figures could be. Heems' lyricism is sharp and poignant while Iyer, Bhatia, and Overall stretch and contract with a lively energy that weaves brilliantly. They're pretty fantastic. Stream their March 4th set after the jump.
Early on his latest album, Drunk, on the song "Bus in These Streets" (written alongside Louis Cole), bassist/singer/personality Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner notes that he's "out here doing the most". Thundercat's third album on the Brainfeeder label does a lot of things, and "the most" is the best descriptor.
This past summer, a friend of mine went off to the island of Mykonos for a few weeks of, well, let's just say it, some good ol' fun debauchery. The Mediterranean isle is kind of a gay paradise. I talked with another friend of mine at the time about the place, what he told me second-hand of the open culture there. I noted that it must be nice for these people to have a place of their own to be open and free, unencumbered, not have to worry about being seen as a categorical other. (To a limited degree, I think of it like my time at Morehouse College as a young black man who has to worry much less often about the white gaze, able to develop my authorial voice and broaden my personality.) I asked if there were a similar island like Mykonos for lesbians. My friend said there wouldn't be such a thing, that culturally, such openness isn't prone to them. I found such an idea completely ludicrous, to the point that it lingered in my head for days until I spoke with him again on the subject. It seemed crazy because the idea of empathy involves a rather simple concept-- everyone wants everything, even if it's an altered, personalized version of those things. If you want something elemental, someone else probably want some version of that elemental aspect of human existence, too. Of course lesbians would want an island. What subset of people who have been marginalized wouldn't want their own place? The rules of engagement there may be different, but to say a group of people wouldn't want their own place defies logic. Everyone wants everything, even if it's a different thing. Oddly enough, I can't help but think of this in reading Ethan Iverson's interview with Robert Glasper and Iverson's subsequent response to the backlash surrounding it.