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Melvin Gibbs (feat. Kokayi), 'Message From The Streets'

Vibration is always critical for Melvin Gibbs, whose electric bass has motored everyone from Ronald Shannon Jackson to Rollins Band. His new EP, 4 + 1 equals 5 for May 25, was made in response to the energies he sensed at a site of pilgrimage — the Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died under the knee of a police officer, just over a year ago. "Message from the Streets" suggests a suite in miniature: Kokayi's indignant poetic invocation (over a haunting synth drone) leads to Gibbs' electric bass solo (in a plaintive blues mode). The beat arrives — sampled handclaps, then trap rhythm — as Kokayi returns, rapping with grim resolve. A music video shows Gibbs as a visiting griot in George Floyd Square, interspersed with footage from protests and police bodycams. It underscores a point: This music is an attempt to bear witness, and its considerable power comes from the ground up.

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