Zulu, My People​.​.​. Hold On (Self-Released, 2020)

It’s impossible to not feel exhausted and tired by the events of the last several months as a black person in this country. The emotional labor is impossible for even me, a brown person, to even fathom.

Even though there are several cities that are still protesting daily, the news apparatus and a good majority of white people are eager to venture back into their comfort zone. 

Zulu, the one man power violence project of Anaiah Lei, better known as the drummer of DARE, seeks to take some of that frustration and channel it, creating music for and about black people.

Lei puts his feelings about the last few months quite succinctly in an Instagram post, promoting the new EP, My People… Hold On:

"I was gonna try to write a long thing to go with this but in short, I’m tired and mad vexed with how things are going on. And to everyone that cared for like 2 months, see ya wouldn’t wanna be ya."

These aren’t empty words or pleasant PR speak. Listening to the EP works to shake you out of complacency and comfort. Like all power violence, each song is compact, trying to smash as many ideas as possible in the smallest amount of time; sometimes for only 30 seconds.

The third track, "Straight from Tha Pride of the Moon," is booming and piledrives you with its metalcore groove. Its the exact amount of heaviness I want from a hardcore recording. But you still feel the immediacy and primacy of the content when you hear, “Face facts, it’s nothing new/I’m stuck in this zoo.”

To call Zulu ACAB hardcore is almost missing the point. While that subset of hardcore has its place, it sometimes sits in entry level statements, ones that many listeners would generally agree with. Yes, all cops are bastards. The experience Lee conveys is much more nuanced than that.

Even as I attempt to cobble together a review, I’m trying my hardest not to fall into the trope of fetishizing black anger. It is one of several emotions one can feel. To only view black art through that one narrow lens denies them of their humanity.

My People… Hold On tries to reflect the multiplicity of experience by letting someone else start off the EP, with that person being a black woman. It works as counterbalance before the barrage of riffs and blast beats on the following song. 

And that balance is the driving force behind the project and EP. Each song transitions into either a spoken word skit or other interstitials. It makes the moments where there is actual music all the more urgent. I’m thinking of the closing track, where Lei tries to lay the responsibility outwards in pained screams. 

“It’s up to you, and you alone/make that change”

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Tagged: zulu