...hers is a silken delivery that, like Michael Franti's, demonstrates that a quiet...
Andy Puleston 2002-11-20
Long term, prime exponent of the New York Slam poetry scene, Ursula Rucker has spent the last seven years working with some of the finest downtempo outfits including Silent Poets and The Roots. Whilst her talents have embellished their work from 1994 onwards, it is former musical partners 4Hero, Alexkid and King Britt who have returned the gesture and collaborated with her on this beautiful fusion of hip hop, nu-jazz and soul.
Inspired by the social commentary of black female writers Zora Neale Hurston and Sonia Sanchez, Ursula Rucker has made it her mission to elevate the mind of hip hop and purify the art form. Like her previous work Supa Sista fixes Ursula's attentions firmly on the issues of sexuality, technology, women's rights, politics, education, evolution and spirituality.
Unlike so many working in the business she is an engaged woman who knows the true power of words. Levelling criticism at some of her male contemporaries for the effects that the violence and machismo in their lyrics has on the young, she purrs, "... formidable minds pay the price for your microphone mistakes. Change or be changed. Break the chains, don't be slaves".
Lazy beats with sweet soul soaked in Rhodes piano and double bass punctuation provide a wonderful, musical contrast to the often gritty subject matter. "Philadelphia Child" combines the city's trademark strings with tabla percussion whilst "What???" extends the variety to subtle drum and bass rhythms all of which compliment Ursula's vocals.
Charged with 'she-lectricity', hers is a silken delivery that, like Michael Franti's, demonstrates that a quiet word in the ear can speak volumes above the microphone rant. Ursula is one that would like to see hip hop become more responsible and more original. This is a woman who is both a poet and performer with important things to say and with her smoky, seductive lyricism it is all too easy to listen and absorb.