Mental Afro
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Mental Afro

Band Rock Funk

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


The Herald Times
Bloomington, Indiana
The Scene
May 17, 2007
Audibles by Dan Coleman
Mental Afro’s brain child
I am a child of the ’70s (barely), and as such, I have somewhat of an affinity for all things old school. I love my rock and my soul to feature actual instrumentation, and I go crazy for anyone who practices the lost art of songwriting.
I was raised in an era of hip-hop where inspiration was drawn from everything from the trans-continental kraut-rock of Kraftwerk to the space-jazz of pianist Bob James. Lyrics were about escaping the droll existence that spawned hip-hop, and even when MCs like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five or Public Enemy got heavy, there was a message behind the rawness of their words.
Back in the day, hip-hop used to be fun and free of the limitations placed upon it by media conglomerates and television networks. Even before Run DMC was walking with Steven Tyler, you routinely saw hip-hop artists collaborating with jazz, rock, reggae and even punk artists to create music that was uncategorizable but undeniably good.
This is the mindset of Bloomington’s Mental Afro, brought together from across the musical spectrum by a shared desire to make music on no terms other than theirs.
The group is composed of Marvin Druin on guitar, Brian Courtney on bass and Neal Michalares on drums, all of whom at one time or another have been jazz musicians, heavy metal shredders, or the occasional marching band member bringing a little musical diplomacy to the Great Wall of China. MCs Tee’Mon Norris and Tracy Brown received their hip-hop training on the streets of Bloomington and Los Angeles in the heyday of hip-hop.
The result is a mash-up of styles that would make Sly and the Family Stone proud.
“I would like to think of us as not being classified as anything. Everybody likes to label so the term I like to use is funk-hop,” said Courtney.
“I don’t know that people even consider us hip-hop. We’re rapping to something different. I don’t know what qualifies as hip-hop, but hip-hop is definitely in me. But I always wanted something different with it anyway,” Norris said. “Especially since I saw The Roots. That was inspiring to me. That was transforming to hear a live band with an awesome MC like Black Thought.”
While Mental Afro has only been together for a few short years, its members have been making music much longer. It is this wisdom that Mental Afro brings to its music, avoiding the amateurish rhyme styles favored by modern MCs in favor of party rhymes over organic sounds.
“Personally I’m inspired by the golden age of hip-hop, which would have been the late ’80s and early ’90s, because the stuff that’s coming out now is not that inspiring. We don’t like to put a lot of b—s— and hoes in our music,” said Norris. “We’re older and we have children, so we’re conscious enough to understand that we don’t need that in our music.”
On Saturday, Mental Afro take to the Max’s Place stage to celebrate the release of their debut self-titled album. After years of searching, the members of Mental Afro have finally found their voice and are relieved to finally have something to show for it.
“The response so far has been really good,” Norris said. “It makes me smile.”
WHO: Mental Afro
WHEN: Friday 10pm
WHERE: Max’s Place
HOW MUCH: $5
MORE INFO: www.myspace.com/mentalafro
- The Herald Times


Discography

Mental Afro - Mental Afro (2007)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"Back in the day, hip-hop used to be fun and free of the limitations placed upon it by media conglomerates and television networks. Even before Run DMC was walking with Steven Tyler, you routinely saw hip-hop artists collaborating with jazz, rock, reggae and even punk artists to create music that was uncategorizable but
undeniably good.
This is the mindset of Bloomington's Mental Afro, brought together from across the musical spectrum by a shared desire to make music on no terms other than theirs. . The result is a mash-up of styles that would make Sly and the Family Stone proud."
- Dan Coleman, The Herald-Times 5/17/07

mentalafro.com