Three Forever: On We Are Dark Angels’ ‘Nat King Turner’

Will Schube takes a look at the new EP from We Are Dark Angels, 'Nat King Turner.'
By    August 22, 2017

Will Schube is waiting for the Magna Carta Holy Grail revival.

On this day in 1831, Nat Turner led the largest slave revolt in American history. It occurred in Southhampton County, Virginia 30 years before the Civil War began. On this day in 2017, Deantoni Parks and Nicci Kasper, who unite under the name We Are Dark Angels, pay tribute to the American hero with a three song EP of skittering psych-samples with ideas ranging from Dixieland era-jazz to modern day low-end thump. Accenting the entire thing, according to Parks, is a heavy influence from JAY Z’s 4:44.

The EP takes its cues from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, The Other America, which he made at Stanford University in 1967. On “Fascination,” the duo intersperses the speech with chopped soul samples and the quiet underpinning of trap hi-hats and synth stabs. The EP moves at an unhurried pace, and at only three tracks, this ease stretches out individual moments into something blurred by the larger vision at hand.

Towards the end of the EP’s final track, “Unforgettable,” Parks and Kasper pick up the pace, backing a James Baldwin speech with some red-light green-light bass jukes and near-palpable textures. Says Baldwin, “Whether or not we love ourselves enough to love our children…The state of our youth is an indictment against this culture…The state of our youth, black or white, is the most unloved and loneliest country in the world.” It’s a notion that rings too true in 2017, yet its relevancy is precisely what Kasper and Parks are trying to highlight on this brief EP. It’s a comforting reminder in their honoring of Nat Turner that in his legend lies a story no erasure of history can diminish.