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Ursula Rucker – Ma’At Mama [K7]

May 9, 2009

The third album from the queen of spoken word reprises the minimalist approach similar to that of her Supa Sista debut. Perhaps due to having only one producer this time, the music is far simpler than on Silver or Lead, her last release that featured a variety of collaborations. Anthony Tidd has created a clear, uncluttered frame for Ursula’s profound lyrics, sometimes matching them with nothing more then didgeridoo-like chanting. Ma’At… is essentially about being a woman, whether mother or daughter or lover. It is in fact Ursula’s mentor Sonia Sanchez who makes her mark on ‘Humbled’ with typically vivid, abstract images of nature, and femininity.

Thereafter Ursula asserts herself in no uncertain terms. Taking issue with the objectifying and “video-ho-ing” of women in ‘Poon Tang Clan’, she puts her own spin on Wu-Tang’s mantra [you know, about being nothing to fuck with] and proves she’s still got her sting. The up-tempo, ‘Rant [Hot in Here]’ is a modern day fight song that is punctuated by a horn section reminiscent of Fela. ‘Revolution, Revolution’…Ursula calls to “put some heresy where your heart is”, as she targets the powers that play upon fear and the idea of freedom to justify war and gun culture. ‘Rant’ is juxtaposed by ‘Black Erotica’, proving that no subject is off limits for this lady as verbal cunninlingus is performed over a jazzy trumpet riff.

The last track, ‘L.O.V.E’, is dedicated to the brilliantly coined term, ‘phoenix’ love. Accompanied by James Poyser on the piano, the album ends on Ursula’s lighter side [unlike ‘Return to Innocence Lost’ that punctuated Supa Sista]. Ma’At Mama is the antithesis of passionless pop music, which is a very good thing.

[Originally reviewed for the March 2006 issue of Echoes]

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