The difference between Imani Coppola’s recently release as
part of the group Little Jackie, The Stoop, and her last solo album, 2007’s The
Black & White Album is the distance between a woman full of rebellion and
youthful arrogance and her slightly older, but wiser self.
The Black & White Album strikes me as an album about her
feelings about turning 30, and those feelings weren’t all warm and fuzzy. The middle finger was definitely drawn. Don’t get me wrong: The album is full of
great music—much more of a rock feel here—and sharp songwriting, but very
abrasive. Maybe I’m getting too old for
the amount of cursing on the album.
On The Stoop, the razor sharp wit that can slice you to
ribbons is still there, but it’s much more focused and refined. That’s not to say that Imani doesn’t roll
with sass and swagger. In fact, she’s
very much aware of her own self-worth and isn’t afraid to make you aware
either. All this is tempered by the
album’s mix of poppy, retro sounds and nods to present day hip hop. In that way, she’s subversive. And also self-aware. Songs like “28 Butts” talk about her need
for self-improvement in areas like cutting down on smoking and cursing.
Imani’s songwriting ability shines throughout the album,
especially on songs like “The World Should Revolve Around Me” and “LOL”, where
she uses text message jargon to tell the story of woman whose boyfriend mistakenly
sends a her a text come-on that was meant for another woman. In less capable hands, this song would’ve be
painful to listen to, but she makes it soar. And I still say that “The World” stands shoulder to shoulder with any
great pop song written this year.
On a slightly different note, I think it’s interesting to
note Imani and her partner Adam Pallin are just one example of artists who are
mining sounds that are reminiscent of 60’s soul and Motown. The most successful recent example,
obviously, is Amy Winehouse. But you
also have to include in this category Sharon Jones and the soon –to-be-released
in the US album by Stephanie McKay, “Tell It Like It Is”. I can also point to artists like Ricky Fanté and Ryan Shaw, both of whom are
much more heavily blues-inspired.
In some ways, I think this can be read as commentary on the
national mood. With everyone deeply
concerned about the economy, the war and the environment, it’s not surprising
that we’re hearing albums that give a nod back to another moment of huge change
in this country, but one that was, despite the upheavals, full of hope for the
Perhaps in “The Stoop”, Imani Coppola is telling us that,
once again, things will ultimately be alright.
Here’s my song, “The World Should Revolve Around Me”. WARNING: This song WILL stick in your head!
- Imani Coppola’s wikipedia entry
- Info on Little Jackie’s performance this Sunday @ Central Park Summerstage in NYC