Ma'at Mama

Artist: Ursula RuckerTitle: Ma'at MamaRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana

Surely you’ve you heard of her. The spoken word sista? Shorty who is down with The Roots? Does it ring a bell now? Though Ursula Rucker is known most potently for her spoken word contributions on Roots’ albums like Do You Want More??? and Illadelph Halflife, she has turned

the doorknob of 2006 with another solo album Ma’at Mama (!K7).

Ma’at Mama is a skillful and highly conscious spoken word album that sheds an interrogating light on society and really outlines the difficulty of being a black woman on this planet Earth.

Illustrated with very defined African drums, nostalgic jazz drumlines, and staple Hip-Hop breakbeats, the tracks on Ma’at Mama are an extension of the already rich legacy of Black music combined with Ursula’s rhythmically candid vocals. Inevitably, Ursula Rucker is another angry black woman. But even though we’ve seen the angry black woman in America manifested into many different roles from the strong-willed Voletta Wallace to the provocative Lil Kim, Ursula’s alternative is simply to discuss the crazy static of issues flowing in her on wax. On “Children’s Poem”, which she insists is not a poem but a prayer, she sends word to young black girls; “Tell her she don’t have to suck no boy’s d**k to keep him.” Ms. Rucker also blesses us with the compelling “Libations” where she navigates us through a concise journey into the history of Black leaders.

Black feminity and empowerment seem be the main theme of this

recording. Sometimes it’s sexual (“Black Erotica”), sometimes it’s straightforward (“For Women”), and sometimes even cynical (“Poon Tang Clan”). The only setback that this album may face is that it does not play as smoothly as it could since it’s hard sometimes to have just words carrying a track. Still, this intelligent Philly homegirl is reminding us colored girls are still considering suicide and does so in a way that a wide variety of listeners can relate to. The “Ma’at” in its title is an Egyptian goddess and it means, “the way things ought to be.” Ursula Rucker has certainly given a convincing argument on her interpretation of that phrase.