Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Album Review: Flagboy Giz - I Got Indian In My Family

Flagboy Giz
I Got Indian In My Family
**** out of *****

Back in 1976 The Wild Tchoupitoulas album fantastically melded the funk of The Meters and Allen Toussaint to Mardi Gras Indian chants while exposing the tradition to a much wider audience (and also inspiring The Neville Brothers to record together). Now in 2022 that tradition morphs with the times, but the emotions are the same as Flagboy Giz drops I Got Indian In My Family, a hip-hop and bounce banger, moving The Wild Tchoupitoulas back onto the radios of New Orleans and beyond. 

Aaron “Flagboy Giz” Hartley’s second album (after 2021's Flagboy of the Nation) brims over with braggadocio claims that stem directly from chants like "Indian Red" and "Big Chief", only modernized and rhymed by a vibrant MC. Hartley's strong vocals never let up throughout the twelve tracks as he not only delivers verses about the power of his people but also the ever present racism, political injustice and violence found in his hometown and this country.

Dominating out of the gate "Sacred Ritual" lets it all hang out as Giz claims to be the prettiest and strongest, all around a party ready beat spiced by saxophone and trumpet flair which sounds straight out of a Trombone Shorty groove. Sewing and pride in suits/appearance is key to the culture as is territory which gets staked out in the Mannie Fresh produced "Uptown" while "Downtown" will get the booty's shaking with heavy bounce beats and more great horn parts. 

Each song follows the same basic pattern with Giz, repeating phrases/rhymes/choruses/chants around energetic and nuanced layers of beats/instrumentation. Slinky soul grooves and huge bass bombs color "Early That Morning" which also features the rest of The Wild Tchoupitoulas while "Mardi Gras" uses haunting chimes, horns and a big ominous beat to strike fear into the hearts of rivals. Closer "Mask That Morning" also ups the tension with metallic guitar riffs, keyboard, and soaring backing "oh and ah's", continuing the masking tradition, no matter the violence or tribulations standing in Hartley's way.   

Things can falter a bit when stripped down, such as the more chant focused "Rocheblave" or "Lookin Like CashMoney" which ricochets musical styles, but these are minor complaints when the tracks slam as hard as these do. The pumping "Tchoupitoulas" is a theme song with electro key flourishes, "War" features Queen Elle and "We Outside" is a statement to rumble, around funky trumpets and just maybe the best track on an album full of slamming efforts. 

While made to boast and brag in New Orleans for a specific, sacred, purpose, the energy, music and rhymes flow beyond that cities streets as Flagboy Giz has modernized the chanting funk of his predecessors with exciting results. I Got Indian In My Family is a cultural rallying cry and a hell of fun listen.  
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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