By Kara Kokinos
Females of color are so dang important to all aspects of our culture and Kelela is no exception.
Innovation is in her lifeblood and seeped into every corner of black, female excellence embodied by artists like her, Solange, and Syd. It’s refreshing to finally see Kelela taking up the space she so wholly deserves. Her interview circuit around this album has tackled the inherent beauty and struggles of black womanhood, presenting us with a Kelela who is both celebratory of the body she inhabits and fully ready to call out an industry she has been marginalized by on every topic, even the pronunciation of her name (it’s Kuh-luh-lah, not Kuh-lay-lah btw). Control is central to everything the artist does and it shows in the quality and caliber of her work; there is no margin for error. This is both self and socially imposed but the beauty lays in the fact that it does not inhibit. Kelela bares herself for all to see, not letting herself be restricted by the all too familiar self-doubt that often comes with creative endeavors. It is both the laudable and inevitable end result of the latent hostility which has been directed towards her.
Take Me Apart celebrates, mourns, and soothes. Dealing with the contrasting emotions of a breakup and those that come at the start of a new relationship, as well as the discomfort of being single lets this album take on a largely universal subject matter but brings it to a new sonic space. As much as Kelela’s brand of R&B plays with the electronic and indie, the heart of jazz informs a large portion of what makes this album so special – the rhythmic experimentation, especially foregrounded on “Onanon,” “Take Me Apart,” and “Enough.” The album is a must listen before Kelela translates the songs to the stage for us at the Middle East on Saturday.
Saturday, November 11
Middle East Downstairs
472 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
Doors @ 8PM | 18+ | $16 -20