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Ursula Rucker: Supa Sista

Ursula Rucker
Ursula Rucker

Ursula Rucker laughs a lot. That may come as a surprise to anyone who’s heard Rucker recite her edgy poems: When she speaks, words shoot out like bullets with sniperlike precision. Whether she’s exploring themes of racism, misogyny or U.S. capitalism, Rucker hits her targets dead on. For a moment, though, she’s all giggles as we engage in idle chitchat. But once we begin talking about Condoleezza Rice, Miles Davis, R. Kelly and her new disc, Ma’at Mama (!K7), Rucker’s mood changes and she chooses her words carefully.

The disc’s title references an ancient Egyptian Kemetic principle involving universal balance and truth. Sonically, the CD’s noticeably different from her previous two discs, Supa Sista and Silver or Lead, on which she supported her poetry with gripping electronica produced by top-shelf DJs such as 4Hero, King Britt and Jazzanova. And while Ma’at Mama glows with a distinctive electronica vibe, it’s less dance-friendly than its predecessor. “I think it was hard for folks to accept the poetry on the dance floor,” says the Philadelphia-based poet. “Although I’ve worked with a lot of electronica musicians, and that has kind of gotten me where I am now, I wanted to find more of my own space.”

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