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When listening to OutKast albums in years past, you knew poet Big Rube would show up at some point. Be it his sobering call to action on “13th Floor/Growing Old” or the weary gaze of “Liberation,” there was no mistaking that rocky Southern drawl, which set thoughtful tones for the group’s deeper tracks.
Rube does the same thing on “Rebirth,” the title track and first single from the Oooh Child Ensemble‘s forthcoming album. The poet sounds flat-out exasperated against the song’s smoky vibe, the perfect backdrop for Rube’s personal angst. “My folks need a lifeline,” he grumbles, “seek and you shall find the grind in the mind’s eye.” In a way, Rube’s introductory poem addresses societal ills. It speaks to people on the ground level, those working multiple jobs to stay afloat, those fighting to stay righteous in the face of pitfalls.
From there, the ensemble—led by Silver Spring keyboardist Drew Kid—turn “Rebirth” into a shape-shifting composition of occasional breakdowns and wafting horn melodies. It dates back to July 2010 as an untitled jazz tune with a guaguanco rhythm. Drew named the song “Rebirth” to honor his aunt, who died of heart disease in August 2010, and poet/singer Gil Scott-Heron‘s “The Bottle,” which salutes guaguanco as the “rhythm of rebirth and regeneration.”
Rebirth is out Nov. 1. Stream the track below.