Review: Christian Scott – Ruler Rebel
When it comes to Jazz being released today, most listeners are interested, but not fascinated. It’s no one’s fault in particular: the myths, and histories that explain the genre’s future are so grand, so wonderful: the genre’s “classic albums” so fantastic, that only a marvelous jazz track can stimulate a large audience. It’s been the case for many years now, where, despite the task at hand, the ranks of those who choose to pursue playing Jazz music as a career remains plentiful. Kamasi Washington has managed it with "The Epic", an album that speaks for the appetite of a thinking world.
Christian Scott, under the nom de trumpet Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, accomplishes the same with "Ruler Rebel", an album which he stands shirtless upon the cover. Lyrical beauty is present throughout and the songs seem to be the product of ingesting modern day musical culture, trap features explicitly throughout the record. However ultimately the album is a reflection highlighting that Christian Scott thinks along with the rest of us : about new ways of defining art, listening, dancing, jazz, and miscellaneous concepts we hear being brought to life whilst listening to music.
This translates to tracks like “The Reckoning”. Drums and trumpets echo the sound of beautiful nightlife, the type you experience when out in any metropolis in the present day, not a rehashing of yesteryear when men wore three piece suits, hats with a feather, and women laughed whilst wearing white gloves. “The Reckoning” twists Jazz into a new, beautiful, direction, one wherein it speaks to the human instinct of a listener with familiarity.
“Encryption” is fantastic. Scott was born and raised in New Orleans, the home of great street bands. We hear the influence of street band culture in both this song and in others across the album. However, it’s the song’s melody that entices with the most force: it becomes clear that Scott is infatuated with spreading novel beauty rather than classicism.
There's something political to the beauty of Scott’s Jazz. It allies street sounds with the contemporary now understood to be petit-bourgeois and bourgeois language into music that exists outside of classism and in a realm of idealism, like how Archie Schepp would.
The album is a great achievement. In this world wherein economic inequality has come to define our everyday life and politics, music previously associated with select social constructs now has the umph and presence of Hip Hop.
Buy the release HERE.