It’s easy to distance ourselves from so much of the ugliness and injustice in this world. Those of us not directly effected tend to debate our points of view, rarely, if ever, truly acknowledging the humanity of those involved. That particular task, with its accompanying emotional baggage, has historically been designated to artists. If you want an honest accounting of our time on this planet, it can be found in our paintings, literature and music.
With his new song entitled “O Mother,” Son Little addresses contemporary matters of racial identity and injustice from an intensely personal perspective, conveying a palpable sense of hurt and frustration that resonates well beyond the typical headlines and slogans. The accompanying sound mixes the mournful sway of classic soul with the taut minimalism hip-hop.
Stream Son Little’s new song “O Mother” courtesy of The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/listening-booth-son-littles-o-mother
And while the events that inspired Little to write“ O Mother” are distinctly American, the genesis began on foreign soil. While touring France, he had deliberately forsaken his smart phone and other electronic devices in order to fully immerse himself in the new surroundings. When a French magazine asked for his reaction to events occurring back in American,a short-lived sense of euphoria was absolutely obliterated as he learned of Michael Brown, Ferguson and Eric Garner.
“The best way I can describe it,” Little says. “Is imagine you're chained to a wall, and you fall asleep and have a beautiful dream and then you wake up and slowly remember that you're still chained to the wall. I didn't know what to say except that this was nothing new. I know racism and violence are global problems, but our particular brand in America is what makes it hard for Black men to breathe. All politics aside, I felt comfortable and respected in France in a way that I never have at home. I felt some of the anxiety and anger leave my body, almost like learning to be myself again; only to have it all come flooding back when i heard the news.”
Mavis Staples, herself a pivotal voice in American protest music, and now a friend of Little’s (the two are working on a project together) has proclaimed the song a “masterpiece” saying,“After listening the first time, I could not move,” Staples says. “I just had to be still. Going through my mind was pride, pain, hope, and joy that in this time in our lives we have a young black man who sees the world and us as a people who still have to strive for our rights. His voice hit me like a lighting bolt. Aaron is dangerous. He has this crying, begging soulful voice that just draws you in. I can't stop listening to it.”
Son Little will be performing throughout the SXSW 2015 Festival this March in Austin TX. His forthcoming full length album will be released on Anti-. Details to be announced.
SON LITTLE SXSW 2015 SCHEDULE:
03-13 Pandora/Team Detroit Party. 11:00 PM, Trinity Hall
03-13 DO512 Showcase, 7:15pm @ Hotel Vegas
03-17 ASCAP Party, 8:00PM, The Blackhearts
03-19 Culture Collide Party, 1:00 PM Container Bar
03-19 Waterloo Records, 4:00PM Waterloo Parking Lot