My People… Hold On is the latest EP from Anaiah Lei’s powerviolence project Zulu. Lei crashed the gates of the OC hardcore scene last year with his unflappably propellant debut EP, Our Day Will Come, and his latest album follows very much in the same vein. A heavyweight toss of pit-kicking hardcore delivered with the unremitting energy of someone who is literally fighting with his life. Which as a black man in America, Lei actually is.
Even though My People… Hold On could easily go blow for blow with any other powerviolence band on the scene right now and hold their turf and their guts in check, the first thing you’re going to hear on this record is not a blast of concrete crushing chords or anguished, mic munching vocals, but instead a poem. This EP begins with a brief, illuminating spoken-word piece from Aleisia Miller, describing the dehumanizing denial of her personhood that she experiences as a black woman in our society. It is a poignant introduction to the subject matter of the album, aimed at inspiring reflection on the state of our so-called civilization, and the way it treats its citizens, while the listener crashing through the remainder of the EP. And crash you will!
“Now They Are Through With Me” queasily stumbles through a slide of unsteady beats and knife-edged guitar swipes, before landing face-first on a mulching groove that will reduce you to a malleable pate. A brutal exhibition heightened by additional of apathy annihilating vocals that come cannonballing into the mix courtesy of Jesus Piece’s Aaron Heard. “Straight From Da Tribe of Tha Moon” is a breakdown laden, speed-trap, that slows down just enough to make you feel thrown once the maniacal grooves kicks back in. “On The Corner of Cimmaron And 24th” begins with a doom drenched opening chord that transitions into a foul strike and roll groove, the force of which is funned miraculous into a soul singer sample, were a the deep quivering intonations of a woman’s voice, accompaniment by the tickle of a piano’s keys, promises to relieve you of the earthly burdens that have been placed upon your shoulders. These samples of soul, jazz and other transcendent forms of American folk music are fixtures of Zulu’s albums, tying Lei’s efforts into the fabric and history of black music in this country and elucidating the liberatory intentions of the project as a whole.
Speaking to Blackfists, Lei was frank when he said that he wanted Zulu to be, “100% for and about black folks… displaying what black power is all about.” His righteousness is clear and his intentions are manifest. A more powerfully cohesive and thematically compelling hardcore record than My People… Hold On you are not likely to find this year.