American Descendant of Slavery (ADoS) is an amalgamation of multiple musical genres that are central to the African American experience. Throughout the 19 track album, Terry Blade tackles race, identity, and sexual orientation. Blade reflects on his heritage and what that means for him as a gay black man. I found the tracks to be rich, self-contained experiences that contributed to a well-developed greater whole.
Let’s first talk about the production of this project. I found the production to work in tandem with Blade’s vocal performance and chosen genre. Tracks like Inward had a jazzy vibe to them that worked well with recounting the shared experiences of black culture. I found the tone and production to be appropriate as Blade talks about the modern black community in greater depth and the conflicts and struggles that are present within. Tracks that were more personal and reflective had barebones instrumentals allowing Blade’s vocal performance to take center stage. Mr. Robertson and Same Gender Loving are some standout examples here. In these tracks, Blade’s raw and earthy vocals really brought out the emotions that I wanted to hear and feel. This was one of the most substantial aspects of this project. I found this creative choice to be exceptionally helpful. It created an invisible dividing line between the two issues that Blade was discussing: The African American Experience and Blade’s Homosexuality.
Now let’s move on to the themes and issues that populate this project. In the midst of the soulful production, Blade introduces themes and concepts that revolve around his experiences. Sprinkled within are interludes and audio recordings that supplement these themes and often bring clarity. After hearing this project, it is no surprise to me that singing is Blade’s forte. I found the lyrics to be poetic and metaphorical. I think one of the strongest aspects of Blade’s lyricism is how he can switch from abstract ideas to granular story-telling. Ms.Mizell serves as a standout example as Blade recalls coming out to his mother and paints subsequent expectations and reactions. For me, the whole track was chilling and vivid. In contrast, tracks like Black Hurts talk more about the collective experiences of the black community. This switch from collective to singular highlights how thoughtful and emotionally intelligent Blade is; he can notice life from both within and without.
In a way, I thought of this project as a tribute—a tribute to the African American community’s foundational musical genres. Blade does justice to each genre he jumps in. This idea of a tribute was even more solidified when Reparations started playing. Reparations sounded like something straight out of Flower Boy by Tyler the Creator, a mainstream African American rapper who also identifies himself (and takes pride in) as gay. If anything, I found this subtle nod to be perfectly placed. Indeed, Terry Blade knows himself, his musical influences, and the genres that he pays homage to. All in all, I enjoyed listening to this project.