Stephen Spielberg intended
"Amistad" to be for the American slaves, what "Schindler's
List" was for the Jews: an emotional honest and touching
movie, that was as much entertaining, as such a horrible
part of our history can be. It was to pay homage to
the victims, and to the still living people that share
this tragedy as their cultural heritage. Maybe with
even enough quality, that it could be a document for
future generations to view, whenever the topic was intended
to be visualized. But Spielberg failed. "Amistad" could
have only been worse, if he'd had picked a white guy
to play the main slave and had him act in blackface.
Hence feature generations will have to turn somewhere
else, when they want an artful approach of this topic.
And while the piece of art that we are about to speak
on in a minute isn't exclusively about the slave past
of the US, The Unseen's "Drapetomania", is still touching
upon it. And the title of the album refers to the 'illness',
that was attributed to the runaway slaves that fled
the 'save haven' of being provided to, into an uncertain
This music doesn't intend
to be beautiful and clean. It speaks on a harshness
that wouldn't fit well with beautiful music. There's
pain throughout this, renditions that are suffering,
funk that is gritty and uncomfortable like walking barefoot
on a gravel road: "One can imagine the face of the faceless,
the tracks, the footprints of the slave that escaped
with.... no shoes. For blood paints them tracks, like
scars paint them backs, like camps keep us trapped,
but we beyond that now - supposedly", so Malik Ameer
says on "Trance Form".
The music is bare, it's an empty vessel with the lyrics
only filling few of the gaps. And it's fragile too,
easy to be overloaded. "Invisibility"
is adding a little more to the music, but it's "Isolated"
gets more intense, quicker and featuring more demanding
and urging sounds.
Heads" where the keyboard piano is adding
more musicality, while the words are very barely being
flowed, this being so much more spoken poetry. And the
words say: "they fear solidarity with clarity, thus
we tear we apart, the bourgeoisies never unite with
their workers, yet we all build the companies, so we
build this country, thus in the name of our ancestors,
we shall deconstruct this country". True melancholy
can be heard on "E.V.I.L.",
while on "Drapetomania"
we are leaving the current struggle behind and return
to the pain of one of the slaves: "they sold my motha,
hung my fatha, raped my sista and lynched my brotha,
so what I'm post to do, they said if I so even look
at masta wrong, they'll kill me too". Malik combines
the track with cotton field singing, that makes the
song sound spiritual, giving it consciously the wrong
is smooth, political and ends the album with the words:
"yeah, only if freedom would pay our rent. And put food
on the table, plus pay for the internet and digital
cable, and put our kids thru college and keep our families
stable, thus such fantasies will never be accomplished,
until we learn how to take nothin'."
This record is something
very uncomfortable for you. It makes it even hard for
us to approach it and appreciate it as something that's
supposed to entertain us. Unless we can take this in,
as something to be listened to with the same respect
and open soul, as we'd be listening to someone telling
us about his struggles from past days in person. What
then also means that we have to give this album a different
kind of respect (but no rating). Unless you can be ignorant
enough to not give a damn.