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Ma'at Mama

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Album Review

Produced mostly by Anthony Tidd, along with some help from past collaborators Tim Motzer and Rob Yancey (all of whom have deep ties to fellow Philadelphians like King Britt and the Roots), Ursula Rucker's third album doesn't have any big names associated with it — as Supa Sista and Silver or Lead featured 4hero, Louie Vega, and Jazzanova — but it certainly doesn't suffer for its lack of star power. In fact, it turns out to be a good thing: Tidd and company are allowed to stretch out and provide Rucker with her most varied set of backdrops yet, from muscular funk-rock to spare soul-jazz, with the electronic programming as crucial and effective as the African percussion. The productions are secondary (as they should be) to Rucker, who hasn't lost a step as a poet-MC and covers a wide range of subjects with remarkable precision and depthless passion. Some of the high points: "Miseducated in a class room with no room for art or the truth" ("Children's Poem"), "Why am I so raw?/'Cause I don't fu*k with protocol or property/I may not be high society but I'm still a f*cking lady" ("Poon Tang Clan"), and "It's a tactic of the regime to lull us into complacency/Into thinking everything's is a'ight/While they fight for crude/Kill and be killed for crude/How Roman Empire/How first world/How crude" ("Rant [Hot in Here]"). And "Libations," with its percussive echoes of the Last Poets' "Niggers Are Scared of Revolution," is partly a recitation of names that weren't scared of revolution, and it's one of the most poignant tracks on the album. Don't be surprised if Rucker's albums keep getting better, as she continues to sharpen her voice and gather more wisdom (and furthermore, it's not as if the issues that concern her have shown any sign of improving).


Born: Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Ursula Rucker isn't a funky diva -- she's her own diva. Having collaborated with some of music's most sophisticated -- the Silent Poets, King Britt, Josh Wink, the Roots -- Rucker has honed her seductive spoken wordplay inside Philly soul, hip-hop, and new jazz. She combines social awareness with womanhood, black culture, and love for something musically alluring. A graduate of Temple's journalism school, Rucker made her poetic debut in 1994 at Philly's celebrated Zanzibar Blue. From there, she proved...
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Ma'at Mama, Ursula Rucker
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