SOUL GLO: The Nigga in Me Is Me + Untitled I & II: CD

Soul Glo is a chaotic hardcore band from Philly and most of the people in the band are black. I first heard of them last year when they ran a successful GoFundMe campaign after Missouri cops racially profiled them on tour—pulling them over and arresting one of the band members. The cover of their new album The Nigga in Me Is Me is a photo of what must be that terrible day: on a bleak stretch of rural highway, a white cop is watching a young black person in a hoodie standing by a police car’s gaping open door as its lights flash and swirl. This record feels like that moment—flailing and screaming through different modes of hardcore, fed up and pissed off, creating something amazing in the face of a world that won’t let that be nearly enough. It’s the frustrations of black life told through punk rock, and it’s Soul Glo’s best work yet. Soul Glo’s been around for about five years. Trace their trajectory backwards on this CD, which includes all three of the band’s 12”s, showing how they evolved from satisfying but by-the-numbers Level Plane-style screamo, through raw-throated hardcore rants, to The Nigga in Me Is Me, which builds on the “anything goes” grab-bag of the previous record, weaving chaotic emo, d-beat, powerviolence, and caustic Danny Brown-ish hip-hop into a cohesive statement with tighter playing and a bigger-sounding recording than their previous work. It should be emphasized that the hip-hop in the mix feels completely organic, matching the rest of the music in intensity and adding a welcome dimension. The barcode sticker on top of the CD calls it The N in Me Is Me, which is how non-black punks shall refer to this album. While the music is vital, the CD itself is frustratingly bare-bones, with recording info and no lyrics. When a song kicks off with “Them white niggas you fuck with turn tiki torch real quick,” I want to know exactly what else is being said! I just ordered the vinyl. Hopefully that format isn’t so stingy with the info. Speaking of early ’00s screamo, I was active in that scene. As my band was fulfilling dreams by touring Europe and playing venues I’d only seen in zines, I was painfully isolated, trying to work out the nuances of my black identity in that highly white scene. I wish Soul Glo had been around then. I’m glad they’re around now and that there seems to be more space in punk these days—more and more bands who aren’t just straight white dudes—and that it’s leading to exciting and life-affirming music like this. –Chris Terry (srarecords.com)