To a certain underprivileged class of people, the election of Donald Trump already sounded like an old saw. Have you heard the one where America isn’t as enlightened as it likes to pretend to be? That brings us to Algiers latest album The Underside Of Power. The band rose to prominence in 2015 with the smashed-together sounds of industrial, soul music and gospel. But on their new album, the sampling of other eras sounds like a reminder of just how long folks have been dealing with this kind of bullsh*t. When I spoke to several of the band member’s last month, they shared their lack of surprise over the current state of the world.
“Just being in a band and traveling around, you are kind of in tune to these negative attitudes that are always there,” said lead singer Franklin James Fisher, who wails throughout the raucous album like a reeling preacher intent on making his sermon stick in the frontal lobes of his flock via brute force. “You can feel it constantly bubbling under the false, cellophane facade of liberalism.”
“We have these benchmarks now, culminations of what’s been going on in Brexit and Donald Trump,” he said. “It shows that we’re not being paranoid. Much of this album was written before Trump. But the rise of right-wing populism around the world, if you’ve been paying attention, really isn’t much of a surprise at all.”
Drummer Matt Tong seconded that idea, citing hip-hop and its decades-long track record of reporting the facts on the ground for poor black Americans.
“Hip-hop has always been sort of a news network for Black America,” he said. “People who get it have been talking about it for a long time.”