STANDOUT TRACK: No. 1, “Black Star,” an electric Delta blues number that addresses colonialism from an African continental perspective. The song begins with an anti-slavery lament: “My body’s broken and worn/My back is bloody and torn/Now my humanity is gone.” Halfway through, however, the listener is ripped away from all this hardship by a wicked, rock-inspired guitar solo.
MUSICAL MOTIVATION: Lead singer and guitarist Sitali, a District resident with Zambian roots, mined the everyday contents of his head to put together “Black Star.” “The song came instantly,” he says, “but it’s shit that I think about all the time.” On Sitali’s mind is the role of blues as a “field social commentary,” but he also wants to comment on religion. Sitali was inspired by how the Roman Catholic Church stamped its own Eurocentric education system onto Africa: “Did you believe?/Did you receive/2,000 years of lies?” In the end, though, Sitali actually wants to go after African leaders who, he sings, allowed their people to be “murdered by jealousy and scorn.”
MISERY LOVES COMPANY: Sitali refers to his band as “D.C.’s first African rock outfit,” and as such the diasporic trio—Jean-Francis Varre on vocals and guitar and Jon Laine on drums—has found a niche. At a recent show at Bossa Lounge, the crowd sang along as if it knew “Black Star” by heart. They get the song, says Sitali: “Oh yeah. Without a doubt.” —Ryan Grim