As much as Black music and cinema seems on the ups — potentially another gold rush in the perpetual parasitism on Black creativity — I’m often inundated with, and rarely impressed by, Black art that’s more interested in checking boxes than being in full definition. Now, the music of Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma is out, and I exhale with deep relief as a rap album, rooted in funk and soul, stands Black as fuck by simply being itself. Jones’ confidence renders him as a historian, a man of symbols and signifiers who’s well-acquainted with how the world makes him tick. He’s a Black man: a ray of sunshine, and a timebomb one wire trip away from going off. His illustrations of Black life are vivid and consistently engaging, written with an agility that finds him sliding between melodies and pockets with focus and finesse. It’s almost deceptive finesse: technically appealing enough to lure a listener with the familiar, with all the conceptual weight to give it wings.

Even the music’s interested in transcending time, often arriving via movements that find one rooted in the callbacks of tradition before being promptly jolted elsewhere. You’ll two-step, head nod, maybe even headbang. There are no cheap renditions of well-treaded waters, but history’s always in the building. This album’s inward, outward — a 360-view of Jones through the literal and surreal as well. One moment finds him politicking to get the girl, the next he’s rapping as a bug avoiding the bottom of a slipper. As he faces the pain the world granted him, he never distances himself from the pleasure; this balance makes Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma an even more rewarding and engrossing experience. Sometimes the truth’s tucked right underneath Jones’ smile, but the truth’s served at whichever temperature’s necessary. Much like its film component, this is an album best enjoyed in full, a modern update to the oral tradition that’s as groovy as it is grave. That’s to say, it’s real: the only thing Topaz Jones is concerned with being.

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