79rs Gang, “Expect the Unexpected”

79rs Gang
Expect The Unexpected
SINKING CITY RECORDS
7/10 

In 1976, a group of Mardi Gras Indians called The Wild Tchoupitoulas made an album soaked in New Orleans’ multiracial heritage of African-American and Native American melody, rhythm, and call-and-response storytelling. Made with Orleans parish legends Cyril Neville, Art Neville and Ziggy Modeliste, The Wild Tchoupitoulas brought to brighter light the prowess and power of these players, their rich and storied tribal ethos, and the zesty originality of their ancient sound.

79rs Gang’s Expect the Unexpected is cut from the same handsome stone, one that pays homage to tradition, opens doors to unlimited perceptions, and throws in elements of electronica and hip hop, culture-clashing with its tried-and-true chants, for fresh measure. That this Gang started off as rivals make its unified vibe and intertwining raps even more enticing. Mardi Gras Indian Chiefs Big Chief Romeo Bougere of the 9th Ward Hunters and Big Chief Jermaine Bossier of the 7th Ward Creole Hunters hooked up as one unit in 2015 to portray the mad, bad everyday interactions of a hard life on the streets and the joys and sorrows within New Orleans’ tribal culture.

Take “79rs Bout to Blow”: Built upon a steam-rolling blend of baritone reeds and bass synth, the pomp and circumstance of the track is given rhythmic depth with its blend of güiro, cowbells, and clinking bottles, while its vocalist-rappers (sounding much like their brothers in Washington D.C. go-go) talk up the treachery of living a combustible life. The hip-shaking, tambourine-fueled slink of “Shot That Signal” and “Culture Vulture” (the latter with an effectively dramatic slithery and cracking vocal from one of the Chiefs) could be Nina Simone outtakes from one of her funkier ’70s albums. The two tribal bosses get together on the thumping “Trouble” and the finger-snapping closer “Pretty Big Chief,” and show off how one unified mind under the groove is better than divided nations. With or without the connection to history and native profile, Expect the Unexpected is embraceable music, ancient to the future.

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