Young Fathers – “Old Rock N Roll” (Singles Going Steady)

Syncopated loops and grimey production provides the perfect backdrop to add a new voice to the ongoing, and much needed, dialogue on race relations.

Stephen Wyatt: When a band unabatedly declares that “White men are black men, too”, their design is to extend the conversation on race past the rigidly defined parameters. “Old Rock N Roll” by Young Fathers confronts racial identification head-on. Liberian-born and Scottish transplant Alloysious Massaquoi spits fiercely over West African samples and tribal beats about how he’s tired of blaming the white man for the scope of his personal trials. The syncopated loops and grimey production provides the perfect backdrop to add a new voice to the ongoing, and much needed, dialogue on race relations. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: Young Fathers kick some serious butt here! The music never stops never stops never stops and the as do lyrics that provoke and prod. It’s impossible to not move to this song and it has the bonus of making one think about issues like race, cultural roots, and even god’s will. The video does an excellent job of capturing the excitement and keeps pace with all that’s happening. [8/10]

Dami Solebo: Subject matter and the video make it stand out. The combination of sounds in the beat creates a discord which only makes the message sharper. The production reminds me of an M.I.A. song. [7/10]

Chad Miller: With such unsettling music, you’d think there’d be an unsettling truth to go with it. Unfortunately, the lyrics are mostly half formed thoughts that seem to have just rolled off Young Fathers’ tongues. There are some good lines in the piece though, specifically “I’m tired of playing the good black”, but it seems a fleeting moment as they command us to “wash your body” just seconds later in the ugliest voice imaginable. And the big theme of ” some white men are black men too” seems less like a fully formed statement than an endorsement for white people to say the N-word. On the bright side, the horror movie tribal music that encompasses the piece makes for some interesting opportunities to release that tension, and Young Fathers has made to cash in on them. [4/10]

Dustin Ragucos: “In the beginning, there was the drum.” In less than ten seconds, a song immediately sinks its hooks, with the promise of percussive variety and culture. Young Fathers, at least with “Old Rock N Roll”, are on the spectrum where a group like Death Grips resides. What is in the middle? What is at the end? If Young Fathers fill these spaces with drums, then so be it. [8/10]

Chris Pittaway: Young Fathers are not interested in pulling punches, and ‘Old Rock N Roll’s booming, disorienting tribal beat and tense personality-laden flow lands almost all of them. The lyrics are a fascinating essay on racial identity; the MC is ‘tired of playing the good black’ and the commercialisation of African culture (‘Congo square is open for business’). The imagery is stark and brutal, and the sheer energy of the track keeps it engaging throughout. [8/10]

Ari Rosenschein: “We living life like a bubble-wrapped ape”, goes the opening lyric of this provocative, kaleidoscopic head bobber. Taken from the album White Men Are Black Men Too, “Old Rock N Roll” is everything new rock ‘n’ roll should be but rarely is. These Scots won the Mercury Prize, so there is some hope left in the world. [9/10]

SCORE: 7.43