Album Review: The Importance Of (Acoustic) by McKinley Dixon

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McKinley Dixon proved to be one of Richmond’s most prolific artists in 2018, and it looks like 2019 won’t see any change of pace for the rapper. On The Importance of (Acoustic), Dixon sheds the band while showcasing a vital part of it, revisiting songs from his full-length follow-up, The Importance Of Self Belief, in a stripped down, acoustic form.

 

Accompanied solely by guitarist Jake Adams, whose altered jazz voicings and dynamic rhythm playing serve as textbook examples of how to lay down an acoustic accompaniment right, Dixon thrives when there’s nowhere to hide. Lines such as “stop killing my trans fam” and “I’m a product of what we have been through” pop forward in the raw form, as though The Importance of (Acoustic) serves mainly as an accentuation of The Importance Of Self Belief’s themes, just in case we missed the point the first time.

On “God’s Land,” Dixon takes on the difficult task of rationalizing black-on-black crime, but does so by focusing on the oppressive forces that lead African-Americans to violently retaliate against one another, as well as against the societal institutions that hold them down, whether figuratively or literally. The main oppressive force on the majority of this EP’s narratives comes in the form of corrupt police officers. Meanwhile, track two, “The Importance of Self Belief” tells the story of a young man who “couldn’t outrun the past fast enough to survive.” This idea that the past discrimination and hatred against the black community continues to haunt the present shows up as a consistent theme in black literature, and Dixon, like many others before him, understands the importance of acknowledging the correlation between what happened and what is happening to African-Americans in America.

 

Even when focusing on the violence and hatred directed towards black men, Dixon doesn’t forsake the women of the black community. The cover art for the EP, provided by Arthur Banach, depicts a black woman in broken handcuffs, holding her fist up in power, as she flees from a chasing police officer. Through his output, Dixon takes care to show black women thriving, influencing, and moving forward against the tide of oppression that America sets against them.

The Importance of (Acoustic) serves as a strong follow-up to Dixon’s impressive 2018 catalogue. With another full-length in the works, set for release in the fall of this year, we can only hope that McKinley Dixon doesn’t have to restate the same social points for us over again, but if he does, we’d best listen.

The Importance Of (Acoustic) by McKinley Dixon is available to listen & purchase now at http://mckinleydixon.bandcamp.com.

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