Sudan Archives

Natural Brown Prom Queen

Stones Throw • 2022

Having already described herself as a Nubian queen and Greek goddess on her début album »Athena«, the title of the second album by the US-American Sudan Archives seems almost humble.  Fine, she still wears the crown as »Natural Brown Prom Queen« and her neo-R’n’B is still beyond reproach, but the self-taught violinist tells her stories on a smaller scale on this album. Born in Cincinnati but raised musically in Los Angeles, Sudan Archives speaks of identity, wonders if she would be more successful as a white person and assures herself of her mantra-like »I’m not average«. Between electronic collages, hip-hop influences ranging from boom bap to trap and rhythm-and-blues elements, her trademark violin plays more of a background, superficial role this time, but does push into the foreground here and there over the course of the record.  The empathetic chanting fluidly transitions from melodic rap to flattering vocals in the upbeat structures, and if Sudan Archives has a problem, it’s that it touches on too many ideas, all of which would be worth exploring at length. For the Prom Queen also tends to move forward hectically and brutally when irritated, and now and then even threatens to overpace, to overdrive.  In the end, despite all her humility, she knows exactly what her strengths are and in her kingdom the leader still marches into battle at the head of the army.