Release Date: May 10, 2019
Record label: Jagjaguwar
One of the albums of the year, this is a confident and self-assured project that affirms the Chicago musician's own place alongside the historical greats she praises With her debut album, ‘HEAVN’, Jamila Woods arrived with a tidal force. Her blend of contemporary soul and R&B straddled contemplation and endurance, struggle and healing. On ‘LEGACY! LEGACY!’, her second album, Woods has created a project that looks to the past to fight for the future.
Jamila Woods conceptualized her second solo album after an exercise she presented to her poetry class at Young Chicago Authors. The students were assigned to choose a poem and "cover" it, as Woods terms it, by putting their individual spin on it. Woods took part with Nikki Giovanni's "Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)," and was then asked by YCA artistic director Kevin Coval to do the same with a piece he wrote about Muddy Waters.
Reclaiming black and brown history through its poets, musicians, intellectuals, and activists, Chicago-based multi-hyphenate Jamila Woods— herself many of these things— gives props to her inspirational heroes. Song titles bear names such as "Miles" (Davis), "Muddy" (Waters), (James) "Baldwin," and (Jean-Michel) "Basquait." Monikers aren't merely ornamental, Woods paints striking portraits of each legend, bearing in mind the times, tradition, and discipline they rose from, distilling them to their essence. "Miles" is staccatoed, jazz shapes jut out over an electro filter while a propulsive underscore keeps driving it along.
When Nina Simone first learned of the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four little girls, her immediate reaction was to try to build a gun in her garage for retaliation. After a cooler head prevailed, thanks to her then-husband/manager, she retreated to the den of her home in Mount ….
On the opening track of Jamila Woods' "Legacy! Legacy!" (Jagjaguwar), the poet-educator-activist picks up where she left off on her extraordinary 2016 debut album. "Great greats come down," she sings, "they whisper to me quiet, 'I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive. '" It's an echo of "HEAVN" (Closed Sessions), which three years ago established Woods as a deceptively gentle voice of resistance, an artist who embodied her community's outcasts - women of color, in particular - and gave them a voice, a soundtrack.
S he might be an up-and-coming soul singer, but US poet and activist Jamila Woods is a team player. Her second album is also a showcase for other people's work. Each song on this engaged but accessible record memorialises a figure from the African diaspora - often lesser-known poets, or figures like Miles and Basquiat. Woods's first album, 2016's Heavn, benefited from co-signs from Chance the Rapper and the Roots.
O n her 2016 debut Heavn, musician, teacher and activist Jamila Woods crafted an ode to her home town of Chicago, and a new kind of protest music. Her contemplative, modern style of soul is built both for marching, and for recuperation, when you need to recover from the fight. As indicated by its title, her follow-up, Legacy! Legacy! is a loving testimony to black artists.
More than just an album, Jamila Woods' 'LEGACY!LEGACY!' pays tribute to inspirational figures like Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt and Jean-Michel Basquiat - a move that if made by any other artist may seem gimmicky. Yet Woods' lyrics and flow-like poetry hold so much power, confidence and raw emotion that 'LEGACY! LEGACY!' is clearly a record demanding to be taken seriously. The sultry R&B sounds she's become known for are constant throughout, with added electricity for 'SONIA', through to the funk-infused bass of 'BALDWIN' and a feature from Nico Segal, AKA Donnie Trumpet.