I’ve spent a lot of time on the road in the past week, driving to Cornwall and back, listening to 6Music (at least when I had a DAB signal in the car). This is the tune that caught my ear the most.
“I just want the freedom to not think about freedom.”
With that simple message, Virginia jazz quintet Butcher Brown convey the truth of what it’s like to be a black man in 2022 – a very different journey from my own trip to a family holiday at the seaside.
Blending jazz with hip hop, funk, rap, rock and soul, Butcher Brown are a kind of throwback to those progressive jazz-funk bands of the 1970s, playing a fusion of funky jazz-rock and hip hop. I’m told they refer to their sound as “hip hop Mahavishnu.”
Black Man is a collaboration with rapper Michael Millions, paying tribute to each genre – listen out for the outstanding jazzy sax solo towards the end – in a heady home brew of jams, jazz and funk, rhymes and beats.
The group consists of producer / keyboardist DJ Harrison; drummer Corey Fonville; bassist Andrew Randazzo; trumpeter / saxophonist / MC Marcus “Tennishu” Tenney; and guitarist Morgan Burrs.
On this tune they’re joined by Michael Millions, whom I last encountered when he released an inspirational tune called Ali paying tribute to Muhammad Ali only days after his death.
I haven’t heard of them before and for all I know this song is currently No.1 in the charts and I’m the last to know, but I do know that Butcher Brown recorded this at their home base of Jellowstone Studios in Richmond, Virginia.
For reasons I forget, I once took a public bus there with a bunch of young black men who turned out to have been recently released from jail.
They were enjoying their own first taste of freedom… which seems an apt memory for the theme of this song.