The GroovaLottos - Ask Yo’ Mama (2017)

The GroovaLottos
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The GroovaLottos - Ask Yo’ Mama 

Ask Yo’ Mama, the title of the new album by The GroovaLottos, is not Mwalim “Dapunkee Professor’s” effort to play the dozens. The album is a music and a history lesson, which should not be surprising since Daphunkee Professor is a tenured college educator. Mwalim, as he did on his previous records both under his name and as an outfit known as the Bass Mint Brothers, delivers lessons through the medium of the concept album.

The GroovaLottos - Ask Yo’ Mama 

Ask Yo’ Mama, the title of the new album by The GroovaLottos, is not Mwalim “Dapunkee Professor’s” effort to play the dozens. The album is a music and a history lesson, which should not be surprising since Daphunkee Professor is a tenured college educator. Mwalim, as he did on his previous records both under his name and as an outfit known as the Bass Mint Brothers, delivers lessons through the medium of the concept album.

Ask Yo’ Mama takes listeners to the fictional radio station WBAR (Black Ass Radio), a station SoulTrackers were introduced to on Mwalim’s excellent project, The Liberation Sessions. Here, the three members of The Groovalottos make an appearance to be interviewed by a young and unprepared jock named Shoo Be Doo Be on a program called the Medium Rare Groove Show – a comically ironic name since the kind of music that inspires Mwalim and The Grovalottos is funk of the rare and unprocessed variety.

The music on Ask Yo’ Mama is unapologetically old school. The instruments, arrangements and production values have the feel of the kind of music that came out of labels such as Stax throughout the 1960s and 70s. Lyrically ad thematically, the tunes are throwbacks as well. Many of the tracks contain, such as “Do You Mind (ifwedancewithyodates)” sport cultural references to 60s and 70s pop culture and music. The line, ‘do you mind if we dance with yo’ dates,’ comes from the famous Otis Day and the Knights scene in the 1978 film “Animal House.” The track is driven by Mwalim’s 1960s soul-jazz work on the electric organ, and finds the trio singing in harmony and telling a story of a guy offering to show a woman a good time on the dance floor (and possibly elsewhere) that her male suitor is apparently unable to.

Funky story telling proves to be The GroovaLottos’ forte throughout Ask Yo’ Mama, such as on the blues inspired track “Just Friend Blues,” where Mwalim tries to convince his woman not to leave by explaining that the quartet of other women with which he constantly finds himself in compromising situations are just friends. “Didn’t mean to do it darlin’/But, she put a gun to my head/I guess when you kicked open the door/It must’ve fallen under the bed.”

“Temple of the Sacred Clown” finds Mwalim adding a touch of psychedelic funk along with a dash of jazz improvisation to his piano playing on track that tells the story of a trickster that makes people see things that may or may not exist. Mwalim wrote all 16 songs and skits heard on Ask Yo’ Mama, but one cut, “Dem Big Girls,” made its first appearance on The Liberation Sessions. That track, an homage to watching full-figured women move on the dance floor, which is a fusion of dancehall and jazz, is about twice as long as the original version.

My generation  danced, played spades and bid whist and did a little belly rubbing off music that sounded just like this, and the highest praise for this album of new songs is that it kind of makes you want to do those same old things. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
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