Sudan Archives: Natural Brown Prom Queen review – dizzying earworms

(Stones Throw)
Post-genre American musician Brittney Parks extends her range yet further on her dizzying second album

Eighteen tracks long and hellbent on swerving lanes, Sudan Archives’ second album proper is one of those records that invites you to get comfortable in its dizzying headspace. Drawing from a wide array of sources – hip-hop, R&B, west African traditions, club beats, up-to-date digitals, analogue handclaps, looped strings – it all hangs together as a portrait of an artist keen to emphasise her range and primacy. Or, as Sudan Archives puts it on OMG Britt, a straight-up trap track: “They gonna have a fit when they hear this shit!”

Born in Cincinnati (that’s the 513 area code of the closing track) but relocated to LA, Brittney Parks is a post-genre operative whose skillset seems to expand with each release. Natural Brown Prom Queen brings her closer to the mainstream, thanks to takes on R&B that range from the canonical – Ciara, Freakalizer – to the more restless: Home Maker, or ChevyS10, a booty call where Parks deploys an angelic falsetto, a quote from Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car and an on-trend disco denouement. Parks’s earworms don’t hurt either. As woozy and restless as these multipart productions are, she packs in plenty of sticky stuff: melodies, hooks, insistent figures. On the glorious title track, she chafes against colourism up against a Middle Eastern string loop that doesn’t quit.

Watch the video for Natural Brown Prom Queen by Sudan Archives.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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