Natural Brown Prom Queen by Sudan Archives album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions

Stones Throw Records

8.8

Sudan Archives

Natural Brown Prom Queen

“I don’t really wanna follow / tricky trendy little things / Hollywood will make you hollow / I’m too rooted in my ways,” Sudan Archives, the project of violinist and vocalist extraordinaire Brittney Denise Park ends her latest 18 track, hour-long wonder of an album, Natural Brown Prom Queen. With touches of Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill, she is an artist who forges her own way with her hip hop, gospel, and R&B influenced music that is honest about her weaknesses, her lusts, her hurts, but also her superwoman persona and destiny.

Like her 2018 single, she is “Not for Sale,” (a lyric that shows up again on this record), and the album is refreshing because of both its startling originality and its against-the-grain but beautifully composed songs. With songs about house plants and hair weaves and Chevy S10s, she covers her every day life in compelling verse, over magnificent soundscapes that her violin only pushes over the top. It has an almost otherworldly flavor, influenced from international music from around the world, but remaining quintessentially American, nonetheless.

“You want the grass green / I want the whole view,” she sings on the song “Homesick (Gorgeous and Arrogant),” with its almost Eastern feel to it. One moment singing about her “titties out” and the next living for the glory of God, singing about the challenges of being a black woman in America and being a force to be reckoned with, an “energizer…freakalizer,” it is a picture of a whole person, willing to put herself out there in bare-all lyrics and intricate, contagious beats.

18 tracks is a lot of tracks for a record, but it goes by quickly with its perfect sense for hooky songwriting and captivating story telling. A Cincinnati woman pursuing her dreams by way of California, she is a relatable figure and examples confidence and vulnerability in equal measure, complexity and accessibility at once. Whether you dive deep into the lyrics or not, this is a treat of an album, and the listener can either find the record as an honest mirror or a musical smokes and mirrors show, depending on the mood that they are in. A stunning accomplishment from an artist establishing themselves as an outlier in the field.

Order Natural Brown Prom Queen by Sudan Archives HERE