Canadian Rap, a Suspicious Package and Jimi Hendrix’s Early Years

The Root listens to Canadian rapper Shad and Earl Greyhound, and reviews the biography of a legend.

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None of this is a bad thing. Suspicious Package presents a band that’s growing musically. They’ve got the three-piece rock thing down, and they now feel comfortable enough to stretch out a bit, and that makes for an album that provides different sonic flavors. For example, one thing you’ll notice is the prominence of bassist Kamara Thomas on vocals. On Soft Targets, Matt Whyte shouldered much of the vocal duties. Here it feels more shared. Kamara has become a more confident singer, and it shows both when she’s providing harmonies as well as singing lead.

“Ghost and the Witness” and “Shotgun” are killers. In fact, if you listen to the three bangers that begin with “Oye Vaya” and end with “Shotgun,” don’t be surprised if you need to go out for a cigarette.

Nice, too, to hear Whyte take on more ballads. “Bill Evans” has a wistful vibe similar to the piano coda of “Layla,” from the movie Goodfellas. And “Out of Air” is absolutely beautiful, haunting even. He sings, “Flood won’t let it fall/Sea’s too deep for wrecking ball/I’m almost out of air/Can I start again?”

“Misty Morning” is a great closer. It pulls you out of the introspection and melancholy that the two preceding songs, beautiful though they are, put you in. A triumphant head nod washes all the blues away.

Props to Earl Greyhound who, with Suspicious Package, have given listeners every reason to trust them.

Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber

Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius (Da Capo Press)

For many people, Jimi Hendrix will always be frozen in amber. Like Bruce Lee and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jimi will always be young, beautiful and at the peak of his abilities. The images we’re left with are iconic: Hendrix setting his guitar ablaze in London in ’67 or his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in ’69. In fact, it’s easy to forget that he didn’t just spring forth fully formed. 

For a reader’s first exploration into Hendrix’s early years, Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber’s well-researched book provides a solid start. Amazon.com notes 127 other biographies and memoirs of Hendrix, including Black Rock Coalition co-founder Greg Tate’s Midnight Lightning and David Henderson’s definitive ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky.

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