The American Negro is a mammoth project from producer and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Younge: a 26-track part-spoken word, part-orchestral examination of the structural racism underpinning the identity of modern America. It forms just one part of Younge’s current projects on the same theme, including a four-part podcast, Invisible Blackness, and a short film, T.A.N.
Delving into this work of immense depth, Younge harks back to the social consciousness soul of forebears such as Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway on the communal funk of the title track and the twinkling soul of Watch the Children. The propulsive protest rap of Revolutionize updates Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, and A Symphony for Sahara showcases Younge’s deft hand at producing a luscious, cinematic score following his work on films such as 2009’s Black Dynamite.
Much more than a pastiche of influences, though, it is Younge’s impassioned spoken-word interludes – dissecting everything from the Frantz Fanon-referencing double consciousness of racial awareness to the creation of racism to solidify class structures – that give this record its unique tone and profundity. It may be an intimidating undertaking, but one that is well worth the time.