Sign up for our free newsletter
Politically astute hiphop can sometimes go down like a dose of childhood medicine: No matter how much sweet shit you chase it with, the bitter taste it leaves in your mouth is inescapable. You gotta push through the pain and swallow it if you are ever going to feel better, but you damn sure don’t have to like it. Lucky for us, not all smart hiphop must be choked down while pinching your nose. Head-Roc’s new disc, Negrophobia, follows in the tradition of the best political records: It sounds like an album that incorporates interesting ideas rather than a lecture series that just happens to be packaged in a jewel box. The D.C. native has gotten the hang of a trick that eludes many—putting something important in your ear without putting you to sleep. On his sophomore solo album, the former 3LG and Infinite Loop member continues the political work he began on last year’s The Return of Black Broadway, which received the 2004 Wammie for the best rap/hiphop album. Whether it’s “Middle Passage,” a wrenching re-creation of a slave-ship voyage, aided by vocals from Jean-Bertrand Aristide, or “They Don’t Speak to Us,” a funny look at the sad fact that many black folks still only interact with whites if they’re calling them “boss” or “officer,” the record’s radical, racially charged material is more grape-flavored Benadryl than acrid Tussin: that rare thing that is not only good, but good for you, too. Head-Roc performs with Noyeek the Grizzly Bear, DJ Eurok, and Jarobi, along with Devine Nature and Asheru’s Black Lincolns at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $10. (202) 397-7328.