Jack White: Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

Detroit is a city of extremes—of Fortune 500 wealth and epidemic poverty, of beautiful art-deco landmarks and ruins that are so apocalyptic, they’ve spawned a mini-tourism industry. Native son Jack White has likewise displayed a fondness for blinding contrasts, and the White Stripes’ candy-cane dress code was the least of it. Over the years, White has gamely pit bluesy authenticity against bullshit artistry; virtuosity against amateurism; punk credibility against Hollywood celebrity; small-business boosterism against Coca-Cola shilling. He’s a garage-rocker who’d rather chill on the front porch, a man who can write songs that fill football stadiums even though sports might just make him miserable.

Those paradoxical qualities have ultimately elevated White’s songbook above mere blues-rock revivalism. That tension is baked right into his music, where the scorching six-string pyrotechnics have routinely been hosed down by soothing sing-alongs. He’s an electric warrior and eccentric warbler, a Page and Plant in one perfect rock-star package. If he didn’t exist, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction committee would have to will him into existence.

However, a new collection wants you to think of White less as a self-mythologizing guitar god and more as a humble storyteller. Though its title may suggest a bounty of rough-draft demos, Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 is really a straightforward, chronological cherry-pick of the songs in White’s discography (peppered with alternate mixes) that don’t feature electric guitar as the primary instrument. It’s White without the red, a Starbucks-worthy sanitization of a scuzz-rock icon. But even though it lops off one side of White’s split personality, Acoustic Recordings still provides a vivid portrait of White’s evolution over the past 18 years; like a phantom limb, the absence of noise becomes a form of presence.

As the compilation reasserts, White has been writing on an acoustic since day one, however, the kinds of acoustic songs he writes have changed considerably over the years. On the first White Stripes album, “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” offered White a chance to exhale between garage-rock grunts, though this suggestive serenade was spiritually in tune with that record’s devil-music worship. But already on 2000’s De Stijl, White was using the acoustic format less as an unplugged antidote and more a foundation for experimentation. With the radiant “I’m Bound to Pack It Up,” he used modest Zeppelin III means to telegraph Houses of the Holy ambitions. And on White Blood Cells hits like “Hotel Yorba” and “We’re Going to Be Friends,” the Stripes’ acoustic side became as crucial to constructing their childlike fantasias as their block-rockin’ rave-ups.

Acoustic Recordings’ first disc—charting the backwoods path to the Stripes’ 2007 swan song Icky Thump—could essentially be replicated by any Stripes completist dragging album tracks into a playlist. (The lone prize find is the hushed Get Behind Me Satan outtake, “City Lights,” the rare acoustic White tune to showcase the sort of guitar wizardry he brings to his electric repertoire.) So it’s appropriate that the more revelatory second disc should kick off with the first official release of “Love Is the Truth,” the winsome 2006 Coca-Cola jingle that symbolically came out around the same time White finally ditched Detroit-scene politics to set up shop in Nashville, heralding his transformation into a multimedia mogul. (The move also coincided with the formation of his supergroup the Raconteurs, represented here by countrified alternate takes of “Top Yourself” and “Carolina Drama.”)

Once the timeline reaches White’s 2012 solo debut, Blunderbuss, the Acoustic Recordings concept practically becomes moot, as the 90/10 ratio of electric/acoustic songs that once governed White Stripes records had effectively reversed (perhaps because White was channeling his most aggressive impulses to the Dead Weather). If White’s early acoustic material conveyed a certain bedsit intimacy, the vibe here is more communal kitchen-party hootenanny. With a wide cast of Music City pros at his side, tracks like “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” and “On and On and On” key in on the homespun spirit of the Band, the Faces, and Exile-era Stones. At this point for White, stripping down means gussying up: with its barrelhouse piano, fiddles and gospelized backing vocals, the “acoustic mix” of the Lazaretto romp “Just One Drink” is essentially honky-tonk glam-rock.

In his journey from the Gold Dollar to the White House, the blues has remained foundational to White’s acoustic songwriting, though, these days, it’s less about the bare-bones style than an existential state of mind. His acoustic catalog used to be a space where he could reveal a more gentle, whimsical side. But in his sometimes fraught adjustment to A-list celebrity—with all the publicized fistfights, divorces, shit-talking, and lawsuits that have come with it—White’s conversational writing has, at times, turned more tense and terse. “I want love to/Change my friends to enemies/And show me how it’s all my fault,” he seethes on Blunderbuss’ Love Interruption” like a man scorned, and that wariness would become further entrenched on Lazaretto’s “Entitlement”: “Every time I’m doing what I want to, somebody comes and tells me it’s wrong/Whenever I’m doing just as I please, somebody cuts me down to me knees.”

More than just showcasing his tuneful side, Acoustic Recordings is a shrine to White’s self-sufficiency, in both the musical and ideological senses. After all, White has always been one to take matters into his own hands, whether he’s building guitars from some spare wire and wood, opening his own record press, or ensuring aliens have access to a turntable. And until he can get off this godforsaken planet and join his records in space, Acoustic Recordings stockpiles a great American songbook that can endure even after we’re all forced to live off the grid.

Jack White: Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

Detroit is a city of extremes—of Fortune 500 wealth and epidemic poverty, of beautiful art-deco landmarks and ruins that are so apocalyptic, they’ve spawned a mini-tourism industry. Native son Jack White has likewise displayed a fondness for blinding contrasts, and the White Stripes’ candy-cane dress code was the least of it. Over the years, White has gamely pit bluesy authenticity against bullshit artistry; virtuosity against amateurism; punk credibility against Hollywood celebrity; small-business boosterism against Coca-Cola shilling. He’s a garage-rocker who’d rather chill on the front porch, a man who can write songs that fill football stadiums even though sports might just make him miserable.

Those paradoxical qualities have ultimately elevated White’s songbook above mere blues-rock revivalism. That tension is baked right into his music, where the scorching six-string pyrotechnics have routinely been hosed down by soothing sing-alongs. He’s an electric warrior and eccentric warbler, a Page and Plant in one perfect rock-star package. If he didn’t exist, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction committee would have to will him into existence.

However, a new collection wants you to think of White less as a self-mythologizing guitar god and more as a humble storyteller. Though its title may suggest a bounty of rough-draft demos, Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 is really a straightforward, chronological cherry-pick of the songs in White’s discography (peppered with alternate mixes) that don’t feature electric guitar as the primary instrument. It’s White without the red, a Starbucks-worthy sanitization of a scuzz-rock icon. But even though it lops off one side of White’s split personality, Acoustic Recordings still provides a vivid portrait of White’s evolution over the past 18 years; like a phantom limb, the absence of noise becomes a form of presence.

As the compilation reasserts, White has been writing on an acoustic since day one, however, the kinds of acoustic songs he writes have changed considerably over the years. On the first White Stripes album, “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” offered White a chance to exhale between garage-rock grunts, though this suggestive serenade was spiritually in tune with that record’s devil-music worship. But already on 2000’s De Stijl, White was using the acoustic format less as an unplugged antidote and more a foundation for experimentation. With the radiant “I’m Bound to Pack It Up,” he used modest Zeppelin III means to telegraph Houses of the Holy ambitions. And on White Blood Cells hits like “Hotel Yorba” and “We’re Going to Be Friends,” the Stripes’ acoustic side became as crucial to constructing their childlike fantasias as their block-rockin’ rave-ups.

Acoustic Recordings’ first disc—charting the backwoods path to the Stripes’ 2007 swan song Icky Thump—could essentially be replicated by any Stripes completist dragging album tracks into a playlist. (The lone prize find is the hushed Get Behind Me Satan outtake, “City Lights,” the rare acoustic White tune to showcase the sort of guitar wizardry he brings to his electric repertoire.) So it’s appropriate that the more revelatory second disc should kick off with the first official release of “Love Is the Truth,” the winsome 2006 Coca-Cola jingle that symbolically came out around the same time White finally ditched Detroit-scene politics to set up shop in Nashville, heralding his transformation into a multimedia mogul. (The move also coincided with the formation of his supergroup the Raconteurs, represented here by countrified alternate takes of “Top Yourself” and “Carolina Drama.”)

Once the timeline reaches White’s 2012 solo debut, Blunderbuss, the Acoustic Recordings concept practically becomes moot, as the 90/10 ratio of electric/acoustic songs that once governed White Stripes records had effectively reversed (perhaps because White was channeling his most aggressive impulses to the Dead Weather). If White’s early acoustic material conveyed a certain bedsit intimacy, the vibe here is more communal kitchen-party hootenanny. With a wide cast of Music City pros at his side, tracks like “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” and “On and On and On” key in on the homespun spirit of the Band, the Faces, and Exile-era Stones. At this point for White, stripping down means gussying up: with its barrelhouse piano, fiddles and gospelized backing vocals, the “acoustic mix” of the Lazaretto romp “Just One Drink” is essentially honky-tonk glam-rock.

In his journey from the Gold Dollar to the White House, the blues has remained foundational to White’s acoustic songwriting, though, these days, it’s less about the bare-bones style than an existential state of mind. His acoustic catalog used to be a space where he could reveal a more gentle, whimsical side. But in his sometimes fraught adjustment to A-list celebrity—with all the publicized fistfights, divorces, shit-talking, and lawsuits that have come with it—White’s conversational writing has, at times, turned more tense and terse. “I want love to/Change my friends to enemies/And show me how it’s all my fault,” he seethes on Blunderbuss’ Love Interruption” like a man scorned, and that wariness would become further entrenched on Lazaretto’s “Entitlement”: “Every time I’m doing what I want to, somebody comes and tells me it’s wrong/Whenever I’m doing just as I please, somebody cuts me down to me knees.”

More than just showcasing his tuneful side, Acoustic Recordings is a shrine to White’s self-sufficiency, in both the musical and ideological senses. After all, White has always been one to take matters into his own hands, whether he’s building guitars from some spare wire and wood, opening his own record press, or ensuring aliens have access to a turntable. And until he can get off this godforsaken planet and join his records in space, Acoustic Recordings stockpiles a great American songbook that can endure even after we’re all forced to live off the grid.

Adam Torres: Pearls to Swine

There’s a degree of would-be myth to Adam Torres’ backstory. He first gained some local notoriety as an undergraduate in Athens, Ohio in the middle of the ’00s, performing solo shows and playing guitar for indie-folk outfit Southeast Engine, heroes of that Ohio scene. In 2006, he self-released his first solo album at the age of 20, Nostra Nova, an album that developed a cult-classic status in the decade since, and a slightly greater visibility upon its reissue via Misra Records last year. While whispers slowly spread of this songwriter you’d never heard of, Torres himself was mostly absent in those ensuing ten years before returning with Pearls to Swine, his first full-fledged release since Nostra Nova.

All those years removed from Nostra Nova it sounds like he returned as a ghost. Torres spent some time volunteering in Ecuador before resettling to Austin, TX to earn his graduate degree and work to help improve the water quality of the Rio Grande, all while releasing a spate of lo-fi demos he recorded in his closet. On Pearls to Swine, his songs are earnest and full of yearning, yet still difficult to divine the concrete relatability that lives within. It transcends his humble Ohio roots, a work of startling beauty that sits in your head like a half-remembered dream: you keep returning to it, trying to approach it from different angles and catch the secrets you’re missing before they slip away into the haze.

Torres’ voice is without a doubt the thing he’s known for and will be remembered by. It has an unearthly quality. Throughout Pearls To Swine, he sings in a ruminative falsetto that is able to bend in directions that defy the shape and scope of the human form. In the album’s stunning opener, “Juniper Arms,” he begins in near-wordlessness, a place he coasts in and out of before occasionally dropping back down to earth for a bit of clarity. The song is about Albuquerque, where Torres was born, as well as Austin, where he lives, but the words “Juniper arms” are the only ones in focus during the chorus. It’s like Torres tries to wrap his arms around the idea of home while drifting around it just out of reach.

There are more traditional moments like “High Lonesome” and “Morning Rain,” moments where Torres remains front-and-center over finger-picked guitar parts, where you could hear him as a compromise between Neil Young’s ’70s broken-angel croon and Jeff Buckley’s celestial melodies. Then there are the counterpoints where he lets himself go to those otherworldly places, like when his voice and the strings meld into one unsettling current in “Daydream.” He has a way of crafting songs that lure you out with their beauty before revealing its underlying rage.

Though Torres’ gorgeous and idiosyncratic voice is a major selling point of Pearls to Swine, it’s bolstered by his meditations on the tangible experience, much of it derived from the life Torres lived between records. Just as the experiences that birthed Nostra Nova were inextricably rooted in small college-town circuits and in the music community in Athens, the new record feels at one with the Texas landscape. There’s a sweeping whine in the string drone of “Outlands,” like wind coursing across the Chihuahuan Desert. It feels like a return journey after traversing the desolation and spending the bulk of a decade removed from his calling.  

That gives the penultimate track, “Mountain River,” a climactic tone with Torres singing “I’m trying to find my way back home” all before the epilogue of “City Limits.” A tension permeates these songs: Torres sounds road-weary, but also like he’s trying to grasp the wonder that’s still out there in America. It’s a tension that many artists working in some strain of contemporary Americana touch on, like those cosmic Americana troubadours Ryley Walker, Steve Gunn, and William TylerIt won’t reproduce the same kind of direct, intimate engagement the once-unknown Nostra Nova did. But Torres has traded away some pieces of the humanity that colored his earlier work in favor of a conversation about something elemental that’s still waiting to be discovered. That doesn’t make for an immediate record. It makes for one full of enigmas, of beautiful and undefinable things that promise further revelations to come.

Adam Torres: Pearls to Swine

There’s a degree of would-be myth to Adam Torres’ backstory. He first gained some local notoriety as an undergraduate in Athens, Ohio in the middle of the ’00s, performing solo shows and playing guitar for indie-folk outfit Southeast Engine, heroes of that Ohio scene. In 2006, he self-released his first solo album at the age of 20, Nostra Nova, an album that developed a cult-classic status in the decade since, and a slightly greater visibility upon its reissue via Misra Records last year. While whispers slowly spread of this songwriter you’d never heard of, Torres himself was mostly absent in those ensuing ten years before returning with Pearls to Swine, his first full-fledged release since Nostra Nova.

All those years removed from Nostra Nova it sounds like he returned as a ghost. Torres spent some time volunteering in Ecuador before resettling to Austin, TX to earn his graduate degree and work to help improve the water quality of the Rio Grande, all while releasing a spate of lo-fi demos he recorded in his closet. On Pearls to Swine, his songs are earnest and full of yearning, yet still difficult to divine the concrete relatability that lives within. It transcends his humble Ohio roots, a work of startling beauty that sits in your head like a half-remembered dream: you keep returning to it, trying to approach it from different angles and catch the secrets you’re missing before they slip away into the haze.

Torres’ voice is without a doubt the thing he’s known for and will be remembered by. It has an unearthly quality. Throughout Pearls To Swine, he sings in a ruminative falsetto that is able to bend in directions that defy the shape and scope of the human form. In the album’s stunning opener, “Juniper Arms,” he begins in near-wordlessness, a place he coasts in and out of before occasionally dropping back down to earth for a bit of clarity. The song is about Albuquerque, where Torres was born, as well as Austin, where he lives, but the words “Juniper arms” are the only ones in focus during the chorus. It’s like Torres tries to wrap his arms around the idea of home while drifting around it just out of reach.

There are more traditional moments like “High Lonesome” and “Morning Rain,” moments where Torres remains front-and-center over finger-picked guitar parts, where you could hear him as a compromise between Neil Young’s ’70s broken-angel croon and Jeff Buckley’s celestial melodies. Then there are the counterpoints where he lets himself go to those otherworldly places, like when his voice and the strings meld into one unsettling current in “Daydream.” He has a way of crafting songs that lure you out with their beauty before revealing its underlying rage.

Though Torres’ gorgeous and idiosyncratic voice is a major selling point of Pearls to Swine, it’s bolstered by his meditations on the tangible experience, much of it derived from the life Torres lived between records. Just as the experiences that birthed Nostra Nova were inextricably rooted in small college-town circuits and in the music community in Athens, the new record feels at one with the Texas landscape. There’s a sweeping whine in the string drone of “Outlands,” like wind coursing across the Chihuahuan Desert. It feels like a return journey after traversing the desolation and spending the bulk of a decade removed from his calling.  

That gives the penultimate track, “Mountain River,” a climactic tone with Torres singing “I’m trying to find my way back home” all before the epilogue of “City Limits.” A tension permeates these songs: Torres sounds road-weary, but also like he’s trying to grasp the wonder that’s still out there in America. It’s a tension that many artists working in some strain of contemporary Americana touch on, like those cosmic Americana troubadours Ryley Walker, Steve Gunn, and William TylerIt won’t reproduce the same kind of direct, intimate engagement the once-unknown Nostra Nova did. But Torres has traded away some pieces of the humanity that colored his earlier work in favor of a conversation about something elemental that’s still waiting to be discovered. That doesn’t make for an immediate record. It makes for one full of enigmas, of beautiful and undefinable things that promise further revelations to come.

Steve Buscemi / Elliott Sharp: Rub Out the Word

Despite his unassailable stature as a literary giant, modernist trailblazer, and fringe icon, we continue to sell William Burroughs short by the way we remember him. The late author is celebrated for his unparalleled ability to disfigure the language, both via his “cut-up” approach to non-linear narrative flow and also for the unrelenting hideousness of his subject matter. But let’s imagine, by comparison, that Jackson Pollock or John Coltrane had gone down in history solely for the audacious splatter of their technique, rather than the innate grace they brought to those techniques.

In Burroughs’ case, even though he structured several of his key works so that readers can start on any page and work through the text in any order, we shouldn’t ignore his gift for putting words together in the first place. If it weren’t for their underlying lyricism, Burroughs’ harrowing portraits of heroin use and pederasty wouldn’t have the arresting impact that they continue to have more than half a century later. And yet, after all that time, even highly creative artists like composer/instrumentalist Elliott Sharp and actor Steve Buscemi miss the mark. Both of them should know better. 

A live performance that took place as part of a month-long celebration of Burroughs’ birthday centennial in 2014, Rub Out the Word will likely satisfy the author’s most avid cheerleaders, but anyone looking for a fresh take should look elsewhere (such as Burroughs’ spoken-word collaborations with the bands Material, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and his 1990 album of readings with various artists, Dead City Radio). It’s not that Buscemi and Sharp don’t mean well, or that they don’t bring a great deal of attention to their respective crafts here. They also deserve credit for not fetishizing Burroughs’ most reprehensible qualities (i.e: his unapologetic fascination with guns even after recklessly killing his second wife with one, and his celebrity among junkies as “the pope of dope”). And yet the pair apparently couldn’t resist looking at their subject through a superficial lens.

Rub Out the Word zigzags between the author’s prose and his musings on the art of writing itself. On paper, it would seem as if Sharp chose wisely from the vast body of text that Burroughs left behind, especially where Buscemi recites passages that tease at offering insight into the author’s process. It is in this area that Rub Out the Word fails the most to deliver on its potential. Unfortunately, Buscemi and Sharp fall into the trap of being seduced by the cut-up technique as the defining aspect of Burroughs’ legacy. They even unwittingly ring the death knell for this album right off the bat, when Buscemi reads, “What better way to invoke a writer than to cut and re-arrange his very own words? Like all keys to be used with caution, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” Too true, as this album would’ve benefitted hugely from a mix of random and structured flow. Sharp, presumably taken by his attraction to chaos theory, copy/pasted Burroughs’ texts and ran them through an online word scrambler, an unnecessary step akin to filtering an innovative guitarist’s parts through the same effects pedal twice.

Burroughs was capable of keeping readers spellbound through the jagged shifts in his train of thought, but it’s obvious within this album’s first few minutes that the cut-up technique doesn’t have the same verve in spoken form that it does on paper—at least not the way it’s delivered here. As an extended oral work, Rub Out the Word simply lacks coherence. And though Sharp’s eerie background drones complement the more nightmarish passages, what begins as a compelling exercise in texture ultimately falls flat from a lack of sonic variety or buildup. Which leaves the spotlight on Buscemi’s stylized voice, an egregious affectation that the material just didn’t need. 

Buscemi actually breathes life into the final track “Taking the Virus” by reading in a rapid-fire, low-pitched whisper that conjures images of an auctioneer making a hushed speech at a funeral. The difference between the vocal technique on this piece and the previous ones is startling. It also shows how much Burroughs’ writing breathes when subjected to new interpretations. Buscemi treats “Taking the Virus” like a script where he has room to invent the narrator’s character, which works wonders. And when Buscemi slows down, he does so with the agility of a seasoned musician. The shift in pacing is revelatory and also creates room for Sharp’s accompaniment to shine through. It’s the one moment where Rub Out the Word has dynamics and dimension. By that point, though, it’s far too late.

Alpha 606: Afro-Cuban Electronics

The style known as electro has no single origin, but its lineage can be traced back to a few fairly clear antecedents. Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force’s 1982 single “Planet Rock” canonized the syncopated rhythmic cadence, played on the Roland TR-808 drum machine, that is central to the style; that song was partly inspired by the lurching, snapping beat of Kraftwerk’s “Numbers,” from 1981. The Germans had probably been listening to Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto, who deployed the same whip-crack syncopations on 1980’s “Riot in Lagos.” But beating them all to the punch was a Miami group called Herman Kelly & Life, who laid down that signature beat in 1978, in a rousing Latin funk song called “Dance to the Drummer’s Beat” that would go on to be a major influence on Miami bass, a regional variant of electro.

Electro’s Latin roots have often been overlooked, but they’re at the center of Afro-Cuban Electronics, the debut album from Miami’s Alpha 606, which fuses the booming and hissing 808s of classic electro with congas, clave, guiro, and other Afro-Cuban percussion instruments. The project dates back to the early 2000s. Originally, it was a group comprising producers Armando Martinez and Rey Rubio and percussionists Marino Hernandez and Danny Chirino, all of Cuban descent (Hernandez, in fact, arrived on Floridian shores in 1980’s Mariel boatlift). They put out their debut EP in 2005, with a remix from fellow Miami electro experimentalists Phoenecia. By 2008, when Detroit’s Interdimensional Transmissions label released the Electrónica Afro-Cubano EP, only Martinez remained, and he continues solo on Afro-Cuban Electronics.

The sound of the music will be familiar to anyone who has heard Hashim’s “Al Naafiysh (The Soul),” Newcleus’ “Jam on It,” or any other classic in the electro pantheon; one of electro’s salient features it that it simply doesn’t change very much. It all comes down to syncopated 808 patterns, skeletal synth bass, and not much more, and Martinez remains faithful to the blueprint. Even without the Afro-Cuban addition, electro enthusiasts would find plenty to love here: His rhythms move with the easy grace of a jungle cat flicking its tail; his drums are as crisp as you could ask for, and his synthesizers shimmer with a vivid, sci-fi sheen.

But the added percussion greatly adds to the music’s dynamism, filling in the empty space with rolling rhythmic counterpoints. On “Shake,” the two opposing rhythmic figures—guiro and clave patterns against snapping kicks and claps—bob like double needles on a sewing machine, zipping in and out of each other’s way. The Latin percussion also does wonders for the music’s tone colors, lending a warm, glassy glow to the Roland’s dry thump and scratch. Often, Martinez leaves his percussion elements relatively unadulterated, but occasionally, as on “Endangered Cuban Crocodile,” he leans hard on the effects, running the congas through heavy compression and reverb; the results sound a little like if Warp’s Artificial Intelligence compilations had an explicit Latin underpinning.

Martinez does his best to keep things varied; tempos range from a skulking, 110-BPM four-to-the-floor up to 170-BPM rollers. Still, at 13 tracks and nearly an hour (plus a different bonus cut on both the vinyl and digital editions), the album feels a little long. For the most part, these are drum workouts, not songs, per se, and the palette begins to blur together by the record’s end, even with two vocal tracks to break things up.

On “Engineered Floatation Device” (sic), the heavily processed vocals speak to the experience of Cuban exiles who fled their island home in small boats and rafts, and the song is dark and alluring, with a silver lining of a synthesizer arpeggio. “Defection” covers similar ground, but its chanted couplets and militant theme—“Defection was our only choice/It happened when you first oppressed our voice/We did not retreat from the attack/ We’ve been deep in the swamp working our way back”—feel a little like empty bravado. And the fact that Cuba’s exiled “freedom fighters” left a trail of blood behind them might leave a bad taste in the listener’s mouth: Alpha 606 is named in tribute to Alpha 66, an anti-Castro paramilitary group, founded by Cuban exiles, that allegedly carried out terrorist attacks on tourist targets in Cuba. The style of the track is clearly meant to recall Drexciya, the Detroit electro act who created an Afrofuturist mythology around a supposed race of subaquatic beings who were born to pregnant women thrown overboard during the Middle Passage. But Drexciya’s underwater resistance was an imaginary conceit, and a utopian one at that. Alpha 606 is best when it lets the drums do the talking, and the only thing that goes boom is the kick on the 808.

Beyoncé Arranges On-Stage Marriage Proposal for Dance Captain During “Single Ladies”: Watch

Beyoncé Arranges On-Stage Marriage Proposal for Dance Captain During “Single Ladies”: Watch

At a recent Formation Tour stop in St. Louis, Beyoncé halted her performance of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” halfway through the song to introduce choreographer John Silver to the stage, as Complex reports. Silver then goes on to propose to his girlfriend, dance captain Ashley Everett, in front of the entire crowd at the Dome At America’s Center. Watch it all go down below.

Watch Beyoncé’s video for “Hold Up”:

Solange Discusses Hostility in “Predominately White Spaces” After Kraftwerk Concert Incident

Solange Discusses Hostility in “Predominately White Spaces” After Kraftwerk Concert Incident

Last night, Solange went to a Kraftwerk concert in New Orleans with her 11 year-old son, his friend, and her husband. During the event, she tweeted about a hostile incident that took place. While dancing to one of her favorite Kraftwerk songs, she wrote that “4 older white women yell to me from behind ‘Sit down now.’ I tell them I’m dancing at a concert. They yell, ‘you need to sit down now.’” Then, according to Solange, they threw a lime at her. Find those tweets below.

Today, she shared an essay on her Saint Heron website called “And Do You Belong? I Do.” She wrote about the Kraftwerk concert and gave more context for the story by writing about other incidents when she felt similarly. She goes on to detail what happened after she was hit with the lime.

“You inhale deeply. Your husband calmly asks the group of women did they just throw trash at you. One woman says, ‘I just want to make it clear, I was not the one who yelled those horrible, nasty, things at you.’ Loud enough for you to hear. This leads you to believe they were saying things way worse than what you heard, but you are not surprised at that part one bit.”

She continues, writing, “You realize that you never called these women racists, but people will continuously put those words in your mouth. What you did indeed say is, ‘This is why many black people are uncomfortable being in predominately white spaces,’ and you still stand true to that.” Solange then explains that this kind of incident is unfortunately a common one. “You and your friends have been called the N word, been approached as prostitutes, and have had your hair touched in a predominately white bar just around the corner from the same venue.”

She concludes her essay explaining that even amidst the hostility of the incident, she and her family were able to enjoy the concert:

“After you think it all over, you know that the biggest payback you could ever had (after, go figure, they then decided they wanted to stand up and dance to songs they liked) was dancing right in front of them with my hair swinging from left to right, my beautiful black son and husband, and our dear friend Rasheed jamming the hell out with the rhythm our ancestors blessed upon us saying…We belong. We belong. We belong. We built this.”

Read the full essay here