Giant Step’s Resident: The City, The Sounds, The Soul Part 9

By Mawuse Ziegbe

The origins of rock music have always been entangled in the African-American experience. Musical idioms like blues and to an extent jazz have laid the groundwork for rockin’ and rollin.’ For several reasons, over the years, rock music has no longer been considered “a black thing.” But there have always been the Lenny Kravitzes, Meshell Ndegeocellos, Bad Brains, Living Colours and many others who stand up and represent. Today, there’s a blitz of new kids pickin’ up axes and making new noise that shoves the boundaries of rock music and cultural identity. Below are a couple of kids who are bringing that certain “I-don’t-know-what” to the rock game.

The Carps
The Carps is the Toronto duo of Jahmal Tonge and Neil White that punches up warbling electro with splashy garage drums. Tonge’s vocals invoke the gleefully cheesy, Activator-powered soul of say Rockwell or early Michael Jackson. “All The Damn Kids” is a dizzying hybrid of punk and Soca (expect to see dirty Union Jacks waving in the air on Eastern Parkway this summer). And “Compton To Scarboro” opens up with a drum riff lifted from Bel Biv Devoe’s 1990 acidic banger, “Poison.” Currently, they’re on tour, blowing minds across Europe with throwback rappers The Cool Kids.

Apollo Heights
This NYC-based group makes my feet tingle with its fuzzy electro rock and makes my heart smile with its latest project “White Music For Black People.” The collective is anchored by twins Danny and Daniel Chavis and they make a lot of poppy epic rock that would make The Smiths and whoever made the music for the finale of The Karate Kid proud. They demonstrate their prowess for revamping classic ‘80s sounds on their remake of Madonna’s “Dress You Up” and piling up heady percussion and pouty vocals on “Missed Again” with
Mike Ladd.

Dragons Of Zynth
Critics have been wetting their pants about the psychedelic-Afrobeat-soul brew that Dragons Of Zynth have been stirring up so well. Another set of twins, Aku and Akwetey, work their magic from the epicenter of a sensual glam-rock enterprise. Their debut, Coronation Thieves is wall-to-wall disjointed rhythms and well-placed explosions of noise. They’re also been endorsed by the ever artful TV On The Radio and Thieves is produced by TVOTR’s David Sitek. But DOZ is more like TVOTR’s over-amped kid brothers who are still obsessed with wizardry and getting into trouble. And thank goodness for that.