Linqua Franqa - Model Minority

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:10 Release Date:2018-02-16
Linqua Franqa - Model Minority
Linqua Franqa - Model Minority

Linqua Franqa (Mariah Parker, also known as Lingua Franqa), is a doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Georgia, located in Athens. You may recall a little music scene rooted in Athens, oh, almost forty years ago, which introduced the world to a band called R.E.M., as well as a few others. Well, I have news for you. Athens has a burgeoning hip-hop buzz going on, too, and Linqua Franqa is a big part of it.

Being a linguistics doctoral student, it's no surprise then that her raps are loquacious, as well as being socially-conscious, deeply personal and penetrating to your soul, while simultaneously being clever as hell. Her latest, Model Minority finds her seamlessly blending vulnerability with swagger to create an utterly engaging and brilliant record. Linqua deftly addresses topics as broad as abortion, race, depression, drug dependency, and politics, all atop some smooth, silky, and even at times dreamy beats. It's a keyboard and horn fueled, jazzy layer that isn't big on heavy duty beats, but rather a more subdued, almost challenging accompaniment, one that only makes me marvel at her skills that much more. Offering ten tracks with three additional remixes, the baker's dozen of songs offer serious proof that Linqua Franqa is a force to be reckoned with in 2018 and beyond.

“Up Close" finds Franqa rapping over a laid back, tinkling piano melody, hitting on a variety of issues including depression and racial stereotypes from both ends, “because I braid it and straighten until I decided I was kind of tired of homogenization. But, ain't ya changed since, look like Angie Davis if you're racist, but upon closer observation, I'm whiter than mayonnaise is." Riding the flow straight into “Eight Weeks," she takes on both sides of the abortion issue with the frankness that only comes from living through it. “Prepare to fight for the right of choice and yet embarrassed by the choice. If it's just a parasite, why your eyes all moist? Because it's difficult to call the child a choice when that tiny voice inside of you is crying out that it's your pride and joy."

“Midnight Oil" delves into drug use, a common theme throughout the album, whether referencing casual pot use, or the addiction to stimulants like Adderall. “I'm tired and it's quiet, I inquire with the king pin, 'Could I acquire five? I'm feeling like I got my wings clipped.' Plus, I got so fucking much to do, I bought 'em and gobbled them all at once like Augustus Gloop." All of this testifying to the need for speed comes with a mournful Greek chorus, “I can't live without you. I can't seem to shake you. I feel so ashamed to say, it's true..." Plaintive horns, like you find in some of the more chilling Billie Holiday numbers, takes the song to a haunting coda.

On “The Con and the Can," a song that came to full bloom following the 2016 election, a moment of clarity arose: “Cuz everyone wantin' to complain about the state of the system, congratulate themselves on Facebook for paying attention. And homie, I know you're right, but if nobody mobilizes and noble fights, shit - we staying slaves for centuries. I wish simply giving a shit would fix it. I wish giving a shit was as simple as whistling 'Dixie.' The only way I have to fix it is cashing my chips in. So, I guess to fix the system, first I have to fix me," before the righteous denouement, “Cuz beating my demons could never be fearsome as feeding 'em and feeling 'em beating up on my eardrums." Fight the power, indeed.

“Gold Bike," finds her riding a bossy brass loop, and showing that she can roll with some old school swagger, “You see that girl on that gold bike, that gold bike that that girls rides? That girl writes such gold rhymes, that girl might go worldwide." I have been singing this chorus for the past few weeks, because it's that goddamn addictive. Similarly, on “The Good Feels" she mixes in some sharp rhymes with an infectious party vibe melody and a sense of humor, wherein she claims she's "saucier than fuckin' Worcestershire."

“My Civilian Life (Wesdarulermix)," with a 70s jazz flute track that Ron Burgundy might call “baby-making music," finds Franqa wondering, “But, is this truly the cruelest world, or if ya did it right, could it truly be something beautiful?" Let's hope so. The alternate mix of this track (“Dopeknifemix") is more urgent and gritty, but I'm a sucker for jazz flute.

I love that Linqua Franqa is quick to point out that she doesn't work toward labels, but views the hip-hop growth in Athens as something related to community and the collaboration of artists from all genres and categories, which leads to the elimination of the stereotypes therein. Music is music, in other words, and her latest offering is damn good music. There's a line that she repeats often over the first two tracks and it's totally appropriate: "Linqua Franqa redefining 'keeping it real.'"

I don't know about you, but I'm following wherever this artist goes and letting her beat up on my eardrums a little more. This is a brilliant record. 

 

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