Review: Ursula Rucker, Supa Sista

The disc runs the gamut of social consciousness, from inner-city school system politics to child molestation.

Ursula Rucker, Supa SistaAfter years of work with artists across the spectrum (the Roots, Jazzanova, Josh Wink), Philly-born poet/singer Ursula Rucker has released her first full-length album, Supa Sista. The disc runs the gamut of social consciousness, from inner-city school system politics (the tabla-infused “Philadelphia Child”) to child molestation (the chilling “Song for Billy”). The exquisite “7,” featuring M.A.D. and Vicki Miles, recounts the construction and gradual erosion of a relationship: “The belly flutters…The soft sweet-as-apple-butter kisses…From night flights inside fancy and fantasy/Now we a family.” The track “What???” takes the “near non-existent state of black music” to task; while Rucker’s didactic tone is a bit awkward (the rest of the album speaks volumes more by sheer example), it’s an accurate and long-overdue diss from within: “No Crissy, no thongs…No lies about your ghetto rep.” “Digichant” explores the long-festering debate on technology (is the world shrinking by speed of communication or are we growing more isolated?), Rucker’s voice digitally pitched up and down across a backdrop of electronic programming: “Can you/Fuck me with your modem/Talk dirty while you finger your diseased keys?” Supa Sista’s mix of new jazz, soul and analog synthesis creates a muggy sweetness that’s strung cohesively by a slew of producers (Alexkid, King Britt, among others). “All they can or want to see/Are scantily clad asses that swing/And beg to be slapped/During self satisfying sex/Say my name,” Rucker says on “Womansong.” This ain’t no Destiny’s Child. It’s Nuyorican poetry, it’s the unadorned essence of hip-hop.

 Label: !K7  Release Date: September 4, 2001  Buy: Amazon

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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