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Marcus Miller: Afrodeezia

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For Afrodeezia, Marcus Miller-who mentions in his liner notes that he’s a spokesperson for UNESCO’s “Slave Route Project”-chose to incorporate musicians and instrumentation associated with various locales historically impacted by slavery. It’s a formidably funky collection-no surprise there-and some of Miller’s most ambitious work.

“I Can’t Breathe,” the album’s finale, is its most affecting piece. It takes its cues from recent instances of police brutality against African-Americans in the U.S., which Miller connects to the struggle of captured Africans on their way to a life of slavery. Miller (on bass guitar and bass clarinet, keyboards and Moroccan gimbri) lays out a looping, polyrhythmic, hyper-dynamic theme, soon enough overlaid by new textures provided by producer/multi-instrumentalist Mocean Worker and the vociferations of Public Enemy’s Chuck D. The juxtaposition of the inscrutably ancient and teeming modernity is made all the more poignant by the realization that there’s an uninterrupted line between the two points.

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