Hitting All The Important Topics
The active, politically aware, and social consciousness raiser Letlive has released their latest album If I’m The Devil… on June 10th 2016 as well fitted piggy back to their critically acclaimed Black is Beautiful. It is safe to say many fans were awaiting the new album knowing the band is always striving better themselves not only as musicians, but philosophically in their mission statement and their ever progressing philosophical ideas of the world. It is evident to see there are highly important themes present in this album: police brutality, institutionalized social norms and the intricate dynamics of a rigid romantic relationship.
The first track to cover such topics is “Good Mourning.” The title of the song is a clever use and play on the word morning. The lyrics are powerful and instantly absorbed by anyone who walks around in a body policed by society and well… by the police. As the song reads, “So you’re better off cutting off both your feet (bootstraps that bind us all)/ because if you try to stand up you might look too tall/ The bigger they are the better view we get to watch them fall/ Ain’t no city like the one I’m from/ That one time got me stressing/ Hands up high praying I don’t get shot.”
The song speaks to what it is like to have life in danger by simply existing; the ever too common (and very real) relationship between police and civilian and more specifically young men of color. This track highlights ever so poetically how norms are strategically set into place to keep individuals silent and keeping the rebellion/progressive movements broken or at the very least at bay maintaining the masses static, still and oppressed. To top it off Butler even illuminates outdated gender normativity that are still projected on female bodies and self-identifying women stating “…what about real girls?/ More than a wife or giver of life/ those antiquated roles”- As Chandler from F.R.I.E.N.D.S would say, “Can Letlive BE any more lyrically on point?” Seriously though, it is music to the ears, literally and metaphorically. However, Letlive isn’t all political. There are some sentimental themes throughout this album as well.
In an interview lead singer Aalon Butler has previously expressed trouble with past relationships. This particular track, “Foreign Cab” seems to be in reflection of a highly sentimental connection with a significant other explaining, “…you’re my better half you won’t know a thing about love either/ I know that I’m pathetic/ I knew before you said it/ Stay with me and share my disease/ Gotta find a way back home/ I want to find a way back home.”
Assuming this is in the perspective of Butler, he seems to be describing a situation where his partner no longer wants him. The relationship is obviously toxic- a disease as described. The emphasis on the word home may have a double meaning. In an attempt to deconstruct the song, home can be both the person to have this complicated, deep, unruly relationship with, but home is also the realization in the hope and growth of solitude.
The singing is a bit 80’s glam rock, but when Aalan decides to scream it is chilling and memorable. Jason Butler (vocals), RJ Johnson (bass), Jeff Sahyoun (guitar), and Loniel Robinson (drums) have successfully created conscious music and that social awareness that is much needed.