Like the title says

Just in case you had any doubts about what sort of album this might be, Agency leads off with "What's Goin' On (Right Now)?". So, yeah. It's like that.


Agency is much more grounded in modern electronic music (and electronic expressions of R&B) than old school soul. Many of these songs sound like a capella songs adorned by a few raps with beats and keyboards laid underneath. There are plenty of minor rhythmic references, but the focus here is on the lyrics. There are points to be made.

Eloquently, I must say. I always want to hear "message" music that takes care of the music before the message, and Agency does so--at least vocally. I'm not entirely sure the full backing tracks always serve the songs, but the vocal work is exceptional.

The lyrics themselves are a rumination of the state of race in the age of Ferguson. The current president isn't referenced explicitly with much frequency, and this album would have just as much power with anyone else in the White House. Even if you don't agree with all the perspectives here, any listener would do well to consider why there is a large number of people who do.

Much like Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions/KRS-One and other highly political hip-hop artists of yore, Agency is likely to attract a decidedly pale audience. This has always been a source of angst, but I say don't worry about it. Agency has plenty for people of all backgrounds to think about. And lest you think you know what's coming next, scoot over to "Black Boys on Mopeds" first. Agency has ambition and range. There is a raw power here. I'll have to listen a few dozen more times to really see how it develops. Striking stuff.

Jon Worley

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