sun 01/08/2021

black culture

Lava, Bush Theatre review - poetic writing, mesmerically performed

What’s in a name? In Benedict Lombe’s incendiary debut play at the Bush Theatre, the answer to this question encompasses a whole continent, an entire existential experience - the Black experience, to be exact - though not in the way that "roots...

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Album: Emma-Jean Thackray - Yellow

Emma-Jean Thackray is not lacking in audaciousness. This is, after all, a white woman from Leeds barely into her thirties, raised on bassline house and indie rock, making music whose most obvious comparisons are with some of the most revered (in the...

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The Death of a Black Man, Hampstead Theatre review - blistering theatre with an unflinching vision

This blistering, fearless play about an 18-year-old black entrepreneur on the King’s Road raises a myriad of uncomfortable questions that resonate profoundly with the Black Lives Matter debate. It’s just one remarkable aspect of The Death of a Black...

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Album: Scotch Rolex - TEWARI

Ask someone in the early 2000s to predict which cities were going to be influential in electronic music in coming years, and it’s unlikely many would have picked Kampala, Uganda. But here we are. Across African countries, vernacular electronic forms...

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Extract: Blackface by Ayanna Thompson

Nearly a year has passed since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on 25 May. Nearly 200 have passed since the birth of “blackface minstrelsy” as a performance mode: white actors applying racial prosthetics to perform and make a mockery of...

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Judas and the Black Messiah review - powerful biopic

One of the sadnesses of covid is that films like Judas and the Black Messiah have been held over for release in the hope that cinemas will reopen. Immersive, intense features like this deserve to be seen in a darkened theatre with no...

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Albums of the Decade 2011-2021

On Valentine’s Day 2011 Disc of the Day album reviews sprang into being, and has been solidly reviewing five albums a week ever since. Out of the many thousands, which ones did we rate the most? To mark 10 years since its inception, 12 of...

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CLR James: Minty Alley review - love and betrayal in the barrack-yard

CLR James came to London from Trinidad in 1932, clutching the manuscript of his first and only novel. He soon found work, writing about cricket for the Manchester Guardian, as well as a political faith, revolutionary Trotskyism, which would inspire...

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One Night in Miami review - black history come alive

In 1964, Cassius Clay, NFL superstar Jim Nathaniel Brown, soul legend Sam Cooke and political firebrand Malcolm X gathered for one night in a dingy room at the Hampton Motel. It was a meeting that became a symbol of hope for black Americans. A photo...

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Courttia Newland: A River Called Time review - an ethereality check

It is near impossible to imagine what the world would look like today if slavery and colonialism had never existed, let alone to write a book on the subject. Courttia Newland sets himself this daunting task in his latest novel, A River Called Time....

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Albums of the Year 2020: Cleo Sol - Rose in the Dark

Among the glints of light in this overcast year, one particularly bright one has been the state of British soul music. Not just in the sense of good records released, although there’ve been plenty of those – but something significantly deeper: a...

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom review - keeping things theatrical

There was always bound to be a hint of melancholy watching George Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Try as you might to focus on the film, you can never quite shake the fact that you’re watching the final performance of Chadwick Boseman, whose life...

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