Mother Tareka is a man of many musical talents. And a busy dude. Frontman, writer and conductor for the 9pc funk-soul-monster known as Mother Tareka & The Rebel Funktion. Half of Hamilton hiphop duo Flowtilla. Guest vocal, sax and flute for city mainstays like Lee Reed and Haolin Munk. And as a solo MC, he is a standout and prolific local voice. Repping the radical, non-misogynist, queer-positive, anti-capitalist truth-speak, he stands to the far left of most MCs. And with a background in live instrumentation (sax, flute, percussion, live-looping), and a musicians ear for arrangement, Mother Tareka brings a musicality to the standard ‘beat & rhyme’ game – singing and weaving in melody, switching up timing and flows – that really sets him apart from his peers.
Drawing on this diversity of musical tactics, Mother Tareka’s newest album “Imagine Something Different” is a bit of a self-fulfilling title. It is Different. Quite a bit different than your average rap record. Lyrically, and stylistically. In tone and in feel. The record has a range that you don’t often hear in hiphop. Big beat bangers like the single “Slaveshift” (prod. Moment) or the club bumping “Sleep No More” (prod. L-SPEX); slow and down tempo tracks like “Electric Blanket” (prod. Moment) and “BLOW” (prod. HUTCHI); uplifting feel like the track “For the L.O.” (prod. 1988); and darker and rough feel, on tracks like “Shadow Of Your Smile” (prod. Monkey Wrench). The beat arrangements are inventive, and heavy on the switch-ups, bridges and breakdowns. The tracks’ intros and outros are never wasted space. And the beats breathe in an organic & live sort of way.
Lyrically Mother Tareka is still on home turf with the radical left leaning lyrics we’ve come to expect from him. Anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, anti-oppressive messages are alive and well on this record. Songs from the struggle, in the tradition of musical revolutionaries like Public Enemy and Dead Prez. But with a healthy pinch of that soulful, Native Tongues-esque, quote/unquote conscious rap feel. His poetry is dense and intelligent. And the wordplay switches constantly, moving between punchy and simple to coded and complex. He comes with a range of different flows. Tempos. He sings. He hums. He harmonizes. He switches tone and intensity. His sense of musicality constantly shines through in his voice.
Tarek Funk (Mother Tareka) is a really talented guy and “Imagine Something Different” is a great listen. It is Mother Tareka’s best recording to date. Look out for a double album release show on April 10th at This Ain’t Hollywood with Lee Reed.
You can purchase this album on the bandcamp page.
Thanks to Cut From Steel special contributor Perry Allen.