Blackalicious’ long-awaited Imani, Vol. 1 is now available for pre-order, coming with a free download of the spaciously funky “The Blow Up”: http://flyt.it/Blackalicious. Simultaneously,Noisey is premiering “Blacka”, featuring some of rapper Gift of Gab‘s most complex rhymes as he talks of the difficulty with color and touches on everything from the struggles in Afghanistan to those here in America over Chief Xcel‘s funk-laden beats.
Listen to “Blacka” here: http://noisey.vice.com/blog/blackalicious-blacka-stream-premiere
Both tracks hit before the start of their first American tour in support of their upcoming album, Imani, Vol. 1, the first in a trilogy three years in the making that will hit on the new street date of September 18, 2015. After finishing North America, they’ll traverse across Europe – even as Gab continues his dialysis to treat his kidney disease.
Imani is the word for “faith” in Swahili. The Sacramento duo have stayed busy since their previous opus; Xcel worked with soul singer Ledisi and collaborated with RV Salters fromGeneral Eletriks as Burning House on their 2013 album Walking Into A Burning House, while Gab released three solo albums before suffering kidney failure caused by his Type 1 diabetes. He’s continuing dialysis treatment while searching for a kidney donor. “In 2012, we came together like ‘Okay, it’s time to go back to the mothership’,” Gab told Exclaim in January. “I equate working with different artists to travel… when you come back to your city after traveling to these other places, you have this broader perspective of what life is. I think that that’s what happened with Blackalicious.”
The audacious album is only the beginning as Imani, Vol. 1 is the first volume of a trilogy, and features appearances from Lifesavas, Lateef, Japanese-American rapper Lyrics Born, funk bandMonophonics, polyphonic Afro-Pop singer Zap Mama, and Fantastic Negrito, who won a performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk. Bosko (Big Boi, Kanye West), Myron of retro soul duo Myron & E, Imani Coppola, and Amde Hamilton also appear on the record. “We wanted to keep the focus closer to us,” Gab says. “Volume two may be a bit more guest-heavy, but this one, we want people to get Blackalicious,” he told Exclaim. Past albums have featured the likes of Zack de la Rocha and ?uestlove, among others.
Blackalicious is known for Gab’s “astonishing verbal dexterity and enunciation” (Pitchfork) and “Xcel’s utility beats and turntabilism” (Rolling Stone) and ). Their own work has been sampled byRae Sremmurd, honored by Macklemore, and rapped by Daniel Radcliffe on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Imani, Vol. 1 is their fourth overall LP after 1999’s Nia (Swahili for “purpose”), 2002’s Blazing Arrow, and 2005’s The Craft.