Spoken word -- savagely critical of the American and Israeli governments -- over funky hip-hop, r&b, and world-beat grooves.
"Government is just an army run by rich people to protect them while they steal from the rest of us." (from High School)
King Happy's controversial and brutally honest spoken word performances - poetic visions of the modern-day hell we all live in - will send chills up your spine. And yet the music by groovemaster Derrik Jordan (Touch The Earth, Expecting A Miracle, Super String Theory) is unbearably seductive. The synergy between the words and the music stirs the entire range of human emotions, from the mellow Marvin Gaye memories of the title tune to the horn-driven funk of the sarcastic High School, from the industrial nightmare world of Bar Code to the unbearably poignant melody that backs up The Journalist. You will dance and cry at the same time!
Jordan and King Happy have been working together on various musical projects since 1973, and they both play in the experimental improvisational trio NATURAL HISTORY, which celebrated three decades as a band with the release of Great Apes of Vermont last year. But besides attempting almost every conceivable style of music together over the years, they have also both devoted countless hours to environmental and antiwar activism. This new cd In MY Country represents the culmination of all those decades on the musical and political front lines, with both artists at the peak of their creative abilities.
Where did these gut-wrenching poems come from? Barry "King Happy" Hyman's mother was the author Shirley Jackson, whose famous short story The Lottery terrified millions with its dark depiction of human nature. His father was the highly-respected literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, who earned his reputation by his "instinct for the jugular." And their friend Ralph Ellison, the African American writer whose novel Invisible Man tried to warn the world about the unbearable pressures building up in the black community, was King Happy's godfather. So now, during a time when America is more polarized politically than at any time in history, with the fascists trying to consolidate their power, King Happy has combined the voices of his ancestors and is speaking out in a way that is brave and visionary, but also heart-rending and deeply disturbing.
The music by Derrik Jordan is absolutely breathtaking -- tasteful, intelligent, and always elegant. The instruments (especially the sax and flute tracks by NYC session player Erik Lawrence) wrap around the poetry like a velvet glove on an iron fist. Every poem gets a totally different musical treatment, whether it's the dialogue between the unrelenting Arabic strings and the fragile harmonica in Message To Israel, the sweet mellow jazz of How To Attain Enlightenment, or the agony of the cello and sax in We Are The Torturers. Derrik is one of the best composer/arranger/producers alive today, and it is his impeccable musical vision, that, more than anything, brings King Happy's poetry to life. Together they have made one of the most powerful and moving political statements to hit the American airwaves in decades.