Review by Jessica Brant
There is little known about the artist Agency. What I’ve been given via press kit is a slew of similar sounding artists’ names (they have been compared to Frank Ocean and Drake) and the state the artist is originally from, Maine. Further investigation into social media accounts and I can extrapolate that the artist(s) likes their privacy, which is a nice vacation from the thousands of other independent artists who incessantly pester and cannonball listeners like me into tuning out before even given their music a chance. Over sharing of personal business and openness of self-servient behavior won’t get you far with a new listenership and a fresh young blogging class of music journos digging through blogosphere junk for foundational acts who can outlast the life span of a tweet , so I first and foremost thank Agency for keeping their social media clean, consistent, and easily identifiable. On that alone, they’ve earned my respect.
Now let’s get to the music. “PolitiKARAMA” is a 7 track EP that explores the divisive election climate that has consumed the United States for the past year. 6 of the 7 tracks were written and produced by Agency. Word has it that his debut full-length album is gearing for release in January 2017. If the EP is any indication of the music language we can except from the artist, then we’re in for a treat. “Evaporate” is like one song transitioning into two more, with soft instrumentals that pull the chorus gently along. It’s a song of conceptual meditation and puts me into a voluntary submission of calming mood. The attitude the artist takes on is the kind of rationale America needs at a time like this. Not pacification, but mobilization with respect for ramification. Awareness and empathy. The track “My life” follows with a 90s, early 2000s Brandy “Sittin’ on Top of the World” go-getter attitude. I can appreciate the old school club writing sound of the track.
Salutes to the old school are reoccurring. Take his cover of “Livin’ in America” by Donna Summer off the Quincy Jones produced album of the same name. I think this was a smart cover to add to the track list. The nostalgia of poppy R&B/ new jack swing beginnings is like a happy pill in my mouth, just like another one of Agency’s tracks, “REJOICE!” is. Remember when times were simpler? Racial tension existed but it wasn’t inflamed by political misgivings. Where the outcry of emboldened youth wasn’t being hushed by an echo chamber of governmental forces/hate groups/bias media/celebrity? We still had music to get us through. Okay okay…so these things always existed in America, with intensities crescendoing and diminuendoing at different periods in history. But the cameras didn’t always exist. The social media, the access, was never there, and now it is.
These are points Agency touches on in tracks like “AmeriKARMA.” “Livin’ in America” just adds the break from the stark sociopolitical conundrums we find ourselves in current American living. We are still here, still choosing to live here. We have power over our own life choices. If we can’t find opportunity, we need to create it for ourselves. We need to invest in ourselves even if the larger society has given up on us, because we still wake up the next day breathing. We need to filter our social media. We need to exist off of a Facebook timeline. We need to be our own heroes. This is why I love this song and the message, which still resonates in the contemporary mainstream.
The album remains humble and consistent in message. Audio excerpts cutting in and out from civil rights leaders like the late and great Mr. Luther King Jr. shuffle the pages of an American past, opening our eyes to the capability of human intervention. People need to open the blinds and let this natural light into their living rooms.
Politikarama is out now via Anticodon Records
If you enjoyed this article, check our previous Album Reviews