HIP-Hop royalty Blackalicious have released their first album in 10 years and are about to bring their tour to the UK with a stop at Sub 89 in Reading.
The new album Imani Vol 1 finds the California-bred duo on top musical form and lives up to their hard-won reputation as one of the genre’s most progressive and forward-thinking creative forces.
The album stays true to rapper Gift of Gab's clever tongue-twisting wordplay and DJ/producer Chief Xcel's unique melodies, delivered via a mix of production and live instruments.
‘Imani, Vol. 1’ – the first of a trilogy to be released over the course of two years is Blackalicious’ most ambitious and accomplished effort to date, maintaining the spirituality, introspection and positivity that are the twosome’s trademarks. The circumstances around its creation offer one of the most inspirational examples of triumph over adversity in modern music.
Imani – whose title is the Swahili word for ‘faith’ – is an especially pertinent project for Blackalicious, with its title reflecting the personal trials that helped to inspire the new album’s words and music.
“Faith has been a big word in both of our lives in the last couple of years,” Gift of Gab affirms. “We both dealt with some personal situations that really required faith and forced us to think about a lot of things. Most of our albums are about where we’re at that point in our lives and that’s definitely true on this one.”
For Gab (Timothy Parker) that has been his ongoing struggle coping with dialysis due to suffering kidney failure. Despite him being needing a donor for a kidney transplant none of this has held Gab back.
Speaking to The Guide while en route from France to the UK, he said: “It’s going really well, it has been a great tour. I like travelling and being able to be out in different places.”
On top of his rigorous schedule Gab also has to receive dialysis three times a week after being diagnosed with kidney failure in 2012.
“God willing I will be at the top of the list to get a kidney donation. I haven’t let it stop me. I do everything I did before.”
Although it’s been a decade since the last Blackalicious release, the pair have remained busy with a variety of musical endeavours. Gift of Gab released three solo albums: 2004’s ‘4th Dimension Rocketships Going Up’, 2009’s ‘Escape 2 Mars’ and 2012’s ‘The Next Logical Progression’.
Chief Xcel (worked with acclaimed soul singer Ledisi, and formed Burning House with R.V. Salters of General Eletriks, releasing the 2013 album ‘Walking Into A Burning House’.
With Imani, Vol. 1 demonstrating that Blackalicious is as potent a creative entity as ever, Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel are embracing their return to the spotlight, and looking forward to reconnecting with their loyal, demographically diverse fanbase.
Blackalicious will be at Reading’s Sub 89 on November 10.