As an Afro-Renaissance man of the ages, Ngoma’s immortal swag has illuminated his work as an artist, activist, multi-instrumentalist, poet, singer, songwriter, and writer for over four decades. Highly respected in the poetry community as a living legend, Ngoma uses his artistic abilities to raise political and spiritual awareness, often inspiring his peers and devotees to think critically about life’s struggles. He is an elder and mentor that leads by example. Included among his many academic honors and accolades is his recent selection as the Beat Poet Laureate of New York for 2017 by The National Beat Poetry Foundation. The Godfather of Spoken Word, as he is so eloquently coined by both academics and street scholars alike, has a sense of artistic continuity and stamina that is difficult for people even half his age to embody. Ngoma’s new album titled Conversation with Esu is a masterful testimony of his creative genius as a musician, poet, and singer.
Conversation with Esu is composed of twelve wonderfully inspired tracks that will surely bring delight to music lovers worldwide. Ngoma reveals his life experience and newfound joy as an ambassador of the divine world, international artist, and global citizen through a symphonic landscape of poem and prose. Conversation with Esu not only heralds a new era in Ngoma’s catalogue as an artist but also courageously explores the inner peace that many are able to find in their return to the faith of those that came from the world before time.
Conversation with Esu: Track by Track Review
Ngoma opens this body of work with the title track Conversation with Esu, quite an incredible way to begin this melodious journey as its placement on the album has a metaphoric meaning for those who know the way of the Yoruba faith. Esu is the owner and ruler of all the paths in the universe and of communication between the Orishas, Olodumare, and humanity. So it is in harmony with the Science of Ifa that Conversation with Esu initiates Ngoma’s audience for what is to follow. Ngoma’s creativity weaves this song’s atmosphere and organic overtones in a southern blues musical recipe that is transcendent and places the listener on the frontlines of the ancestral path.
Conversation with Esu’s rhythms continues to flow into the track Cross Roads. The track’s feature, poetess Osunyoyin Alake Ifariki, remarkably defines the importance of the crossroads, a place where “heaven touches the earth,” with a memorable psalm that illustrates how African spiritual technology survives in the music of its descendants.
Naked is Ngoma’s inventive acapella of raw consciousness. As its title exclaims, Ngoma captures the album’s theme of traveling to the homeland and back in order to resurrect that which we truly are in the mind of the universe. Naked’s structure allows the audience to sit in the same room with Ngoma, mind to mind.
Music is My Essence is an autobiographical piece that captures our attention with its funky bassline that is in a handsome dialogue with the background flute. Through symbolism of word, Ngoma describes his age-old love affair with music, something that we can all relate to as artists and fans.
Filled with the nostalgia that is often associated with the borough, Ngoma brings us a funky smorgasbord of lyricism and music in Bronx Poem. This trip down memory lane cleverly educates tourists of the Bronx in its history and culture prior to gentrification. Bronx Poem proves to be an antique subway token which will bring satisfaction to those struggling with a rewind-button addiction.
Elerin Ipin is another album gem that reads like a scene from a movie. It’s soft yet cinematic landscape adds to the track’s intensity. In Yoruba spirituality, elerin ipin means Witness to Creation. The expression has a deeper meaning in Yoruba faith which would take another article to define. But in brief, being a witness to creation means that you are able to see beyond the physical realm and into the ebb and flow of forces that are responsible for the world’s fates. Ngoma is able to present his induction into the citizenry of the divine world through a true-to-life folktale that is compassionately described in the poem.
Ngoma has fun with Conversation with Harriet. With a backdrop of Caribbean rockers music, Ngoma leads us into a conversation with Harriet Tubman, imaginably gaining insight into what she thinks about being on the $20 bill. Ngoma’s execution of the track’s theme is entertaining and musically witty.
The experimental approach to Lady Liberty makes this an awesome composition. Ngoma’s use of boat and pier sounds as the track’s instruments put the listener at the bay where Lady Liberty resides. This is a poem that cynically describes the threats and losses of freedoms and rights in an age where people are told otherwise.
Real Black Panthers Ain’t in Wakanda separates the wheat from the chaff and is a delightful spin on the topic of the movie Panther. Ngoma reminds his audience that there were many real Black Panthers that fought for freedom and became political prisoners due to their efforts. Meanwhile, the present generation is infatuated with a Hollywood film titled Panther, wherein the villain is born in the same hometown that the political Black Panthers originated. You can’t make this stuff up. Ngoma’s tribute to political prisoners of war is an essential element in the Conversation with Esu’s genius.
Sitting on the Edge of Tomorrow is a tantalizing treasure chest of proverbial wisdom. With its theatrical presentation set in the world of nature, Ngoma receives revelation in prose that the righteous will survive, definitely a source of encouragement for those who exercise faith in the spirit of life.
Pick Up What You Can Pick Up is a bold track about the injustices facing people around the world. The moving instrumentation of the track provides a perfect platform for Ngoma’s clear and concise message. Pick Up What You Can Pick Up is by any means necessary and an indispensable part of Conversation with Esu’s ingredients. Ngoma concludes this spectacular album with Conversation with Esu (instrumental). Ngoma lets the music speak, which allows listeners to absorb this powerful voyage of word and song.
Conversation with Esu by Ngoma is a masterpiece. This is an exceptional album from the Godfather of Spoken Word that clearly reflects the inner peace Ngoma has obtained from his spiritual journey. Conversation with Esu is a noninvasive and enlightening work that will hopefully be entered into the realm of academia and studied by scholars and students for its musical expression, lyricism, song structure, and a marvelous display of musical theory. There is something here for everyone as Ngoma successfully incorporates the elements of divine understanding that is essential for art to survive in life and for life to survive through art. Bravo brethren!
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