Edinburgh hip-hop trio Young Fathers continue to evolve on their sophomore release, so much so that White Men Are Black Men Too could threaten a jump out of the "rap" section of any given record store if it weren't for all the electronic musical mashing and the album's aggressive, provocative title. Get past those two examples of the hip-hop aesthetic in action and this often bright, often very indie rock-influenced effort seems to owe more to Can than Nas, with the free-floating "Sirens" coming off as the Flaming Lips getting low, while "Shame" shakes a tambourine, employs throwback backup singers, and bounces with a bright melody straight out of the Passion Pit playbook. Phoenix should check if their book of riffs was stolen too, but the brittle and broken "Old Rock n Roll" is like nothing on the pop charts, as it brings to mind Flying Lotus with its complicated, dark music, plus the Last Poets with its complicated, honest lyrics ("I'm tired of having to hold back/I'm tired of wearing this hallmark for some evils that happened way back"). "Liberated" brings the same revolutionary spirit and anger, even when it is an uplifting and empowering number in the end, and then there's the musical tension on the album, as the opening "Still Running" teases the listener into thinking it's an intro, even as it builds and builds, refusing to break into a standard hook as it curls into a whirlwind. Member Aloysious Massaquoi declared that on this second LP "Young Fathers are breaking out of the ghetto," which might explain all the pop influences, but most of the competition is still catching up to the trio's debut. No musical ghetto here as White Men Are Black Men Too suggests Young Fathers are quintessentially ahead of their time, even when their music is tight, attractive, and vital enough to be enjoyed today.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries