Following some self-released project, Richmond, VA-based artist McKinley Dixon has revealed that he’s signed to Spacebomb for the release of his next album, For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her, which arrives on May 7. The news comes heralded by the magnificent lead single “make a poet Black”, which Dixon introduces by saying:
“The creation of ‘make a poet Black’ was at a pivotal moment, not only in my musical timeline, but my life. I was achieving a lot of milestones in the same week but I lost someone integral to my childhood. There was an accumulation of stories that involved this person and when they passed, I questioned the validity of my memories. I went through a sort of an impostor syndrome and had a lot of uncomfortable moments with myself.
“This resulted in a song that challenged who I was, challenged my intentions and created this narrative of me chasing a version of myself that I lost. ‘make a poet Black’ is the result of me questioning: what about trauma forces a black person to feel the need to create?”
With all that narrative and energy packed into it, “make a poet Black” could easily have been a mess in lesser hands, but Dixon has produced his new calling card with this one. Piling up characterful and devastating bars with head-spinning precision over a plucked-string beat, Dixon quickly wraps you in his hyperactive mind. He flits between confidence and cutting, eventually bringing everything crashing down to Earth with the drawling accusation “you not the realest – you know that right?”, which could be levelled at himself or anyone in his crosshairs. Tense violins only add to the drama of “make a poet Black”, but Dixon’s flow remains unfaltering as he continues to glide and spit with magnetic presence, before stepping aside for a stark jazz piano interlude to give us some much needed space to catch our breath.