|Album||Natural Brown Prom Queen|
|Year of release||2022|
I started listening to this album after reading a review on Pitchfork. And, such a breath of fresh air! Beautiful album by Brittney Denise Parks.
Parks started making music at an early age, her first instrument being the violin. Following the advice of her stepfather, who was employed at LaFace Records, she founds N2 with her sister Cat, but it wasn’t what she wanted. Parks: “I felt stifled – it wasn’t good for my creativity”.
She soon decides to go about her career by herself and leaves for Los Angeles. During her studies ethnomusicology she composes and records her own music and does research “to show the Blackness of the violin”. She quickly concluded that the instrument is used in many different ways in various cultures: “I found violinists who looked like me in Africa, playing it so wildly. It’s such a serious instrument in a western concert setting, but in so many other places in the world it brings the party”.
Emphasizing her link to Africa, Parks decides to take on the artist name Sudan Archives. In 2017 she released her first EP (entitled Sudan Archives), in 2018 followed by a second EP, Sink. In 2019 Sudan Archives released her debut album, Athena, which was greeted with great enthusiasm.
On March 16, 2022, the single Home Maker was made public as a prelude to her latest album, Natural Brown Prom Queen, which was released on September 9, 2022. Sudan Archives: “It felt like time to let people know who I am. My stage name is kind of academic and on Athena, I created this thoughtful persona centred on divine Black femininity. Now I want to show my looseness, too. I’m a deep, insightful person, but I’m also fucking silly”.
House, afrobeat, rap, (G-)funk, (neo-)soul, pop, electronica, jazz and R&B all come together in an irresitable mix. After each turn of the record new elements and musical ingenuities stand out. It’s really impressive how the different styles effortlessly blend into one another, sometimnes even within the space of one song, while still maintaining the organic flow of the music. Based on this album, it’s impossible to tell where the limitations of Sudan Archives lie. It’s funny and ecouraging to conclude that there still are people like that out there: musical all-rounders, who can produce themselves and are able to make music that matters. Or, to summarize it in the words of Sudan Archives herself: “I’m not average, I’m not average, I’m not average”. Duly noted.
Sudan Archives is (co-)composer of all songs.
- Home Maker
- NBPQ (Topless)
- Is This Real? (Can You Hear Yourself?)
- Selfish Soul
- Loyal (EDD)
- OMG BRITT
- Copycat (Broken Notions)
- It’s Already Done
- TDLY (Homegrown Land)
- Do Your Thing (Refreshing Springs)
- Homesick (Gorgeous & Arrogant)
- Milk Me
- Yellow Brick Road
I say, a candidiate for next year’s North Sea Jazz Festival. If you can’t wait for July 2023: she plays the (Dutch) Paradiso room Tolhuistuin on November 15, 2022. I will be there!
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.
Sudan Archives image: wnxp.org
Other images: stonesthrow.com