Ursula Rucker, Supa Sista

Ursula Rucker, Supa Sista (2001)

On the Roots’ last three full-length albums, Ursula Rucker read kitchen-sink tales that delved into first-person accounts of gang-bang rapes, drug dealing, and doomed inner-city lives, illustrating the slippery balance between survival and immorality. But Supa Sista finds her on higher ground, labeling the internet as “The computerized wet dream/Soaking/Sucking/Our creativity/Our sensitivity” on “Digitech” and levying several criticisms at her Black community’s treatment of women (“Womansong”). On most of the 12 tracks, the words are insistent, yet Rucker’s voice remains mellifluous, so whispery it could be a fluttering curtain beating against a window pane, rather than a harangue against your consciousness. Sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile the two, especially when Rucker renders lines like “recipients of pale-faced pawing and pillage” (“Brown Boy”) with such grace and love that it’s obvious she’s taking pleasure in reciting them even as she uses them to indict her targets. Producers include Robert Yancey III, 4 Hero, Jonah Sharp, and King Britt. !K7 Records.

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