In late 2020, Camae Ayewa (a.k.a. Moor Mother) released BRASS with the supremely underappreciated rapper Billy Woods, initiating a move from subterranean experimental and jazz-inspired spoken word into more rhythmic phrasing. On her fifth album, Black Encyclopedia of the Air, Ayewa pulls together a collection of underground hip-hop artists to help create something more digestible without sacrificing an ounce of her boundary-pushing, political, or adventurous spirit.
For example, the haunted chopped-and-screwed "Obsidian" features a genre-bending verse from Pink Siifu, tackles domestic violence with honest lyrics, and finds Ayewa channelling Caribbean dark magic in just 90 seconds.
Camae Ayewa, aka Moor Mother, has spent the better part of a decade becoming the poet laureate of the apocalypse. So it's strange to hear the Philadelphia sound artist say, "I ain't got to fight no more. " Threaded through rolling drums and the squealing upward climb of a violin, the phrase that weaves Black Encyclopedia of the Air closer "Clock Fight" together seems to contradict a ferocious legacy of blurring past, present, and future into hissing indictments of history that still left room for hope.