Sons of Kemet – Black to the Future

Shabaka Hutchings and Sons of Kemet return with Black to the Future, the group's best work to date

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 10 May 2021
  • Sons of Kemet - Black to the Future
Album title: Black to the Future
Artist: Sons of Kemet
Label: Impulse! Records
Release date: 14 May

Sons of Kemet’s first release on the legendary jazz imprint Impulse!, 2018’s Your Queen Is a Reptile, was a scintillating statement of intent. It was a record that weaponised bandleader Shabaka Hutchings’ musical virtuosity and used it to deliver a scathing rebuke of colonialism and the British establishment, while simultaneously serving as a series of paeans to influential black women like Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis and Mamie Phipps Clark. Field Negus, the opening track on follow-up Black to the Future, appears to be bringing the curtain up on a similarly political work, but to pigeonhole the record that way would be hugely reductive.

This is the group’s masterwork to date, a thrillingly rich tapestry that combines passionate reflections on the meaning of black power, sharpened in particular by last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, with sonic love letters to black culture past and present. A diverse cast of guest stars – from D Double E to Lianne La Havas – aids in the album’s stylistic slaloming, but comprising the crucial core of Black to the Future is the passion and vivacity with which Hutchings weaves his worldview into jazz that is open-minded, open-hearted and forward-thinking.

Listen to: Pick Up Your Burning Cross, For the Culture, Throughout the Madness, Stay Strong