Akello Uchenna: Green Tea Mint
Inner Current

Akello Uchenna's Green Tea Mint severely blunted full-length features eighteen short cuts assembled into a patchwork collage of jazz samples, spoken word segments, soul vocalizing, phone recordings, film excerpts, MCs, and smoked hip-hop beats. The recited passage in the “Intro” leaves little doubt about the sensibility involved: “Ever since the first hungry caveman unsuspectingly discovered a large patch of earthy-tasting little mushrooms … mankind has imbibed, inhaled, ingested, injected, and anally inserted substances known to cause seriously altered states of consciousness…” (check out how woozily the melodies waver in the lurching “Life Goes on Forever” while lilting voices echo through the haze in “Are We Still Here”).

As the title “Through My Collection” suggests, Uchenna liberally draws upon an entire library's worth of samples (Joseph Cotton in Citizen Kane, among countless others) but his constructions are hardly random (check out the carefully-assembled weave of voices in “Communicate” where an angry female profanely spits out something about anti-Christ, Lucifer, and Lucifer's Child while a singer murmurs “Amazing Grace”). The album's bolstered considerably by a number of hook-heavy, MC-based cuts (“I'm a Be Me,” “Communicate,” “The Ho is Mine”) plus there's boom-bap funk (“Dancing with the Mystery”), and soulful hip-hop (“Hugs for Everybody”). An instrumental vignette of jazzy hip-hop (“Interluded”) provides welcome relief from the dense swirl of voices, beats, and samples. It's a seriously great collection but often hilarious too (one Springer-like segment in “Through My Collection” includes this jewel by an irate woman: “I have a recipe for you; okay, it's called ‘kiss-my-ass sandwich,' and you know what the ingredients are? It's your crusty lips on my black ass.”) For those seeking points of reference, Green Tea Mint perpetuates the venerable tripped-out tradition of Prefuse 73's One Word Extinguisher.

June 2007