Alternative hip-hop band Flobots’ highly anticipated fourth album, NOENEMIES, was released on May 5, 2017. NOENEMIES is, without question, Flobots’ most ambitious and sophisticated statement to date – both lyrically and musically. Funded entirely by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $80,000, the music on NOENEMIES is undeniably Flobots music, but it’s also assuredly music made by artists who have matured and expanded their horizons.
Influenced by stories shared by Flobots’ friend and longtime mentor and Southern Freedom Movement historian and professor – the late Dr. Vincent Harding, and inspired by the band’s recent grassroots community work hosting workshops, classes and keynote speeches about using collective song to build social movements, NOENEMIES is a body of songs that speak to the urgency of the current moment.
Each of the tracks on NOENEMIES serves as a powerful, poignant new anthem, many packed with surprises both subtle and grand. Taken as a whole, the album is enormous in breadth, enveloping and electrically charged, befitting of the finely crafted, carefully chosen words. NOENEMIES virtually begs the listener to delve and to contemplate, to share and revel.
For the recording of NOENEMIES, Flobots’ core trio – emcee’s Brer Rabbit (Stephen Brackett) and Jonny 5 (Jamie Laurie) and drummer Kenny Ortiz – enlisted the help of trusted musical friends to bring their vision of the album into reality. Musician/Producer Gabriel Otto worked intimately with the band to craft a distinct sonic landscape, recruiting a string section, horn players, and a gospel quintet to layer recurring motifs over the band’s signature grooves. They teamed up with founding Flobot Mackenzie Gault (viola) and longtime musical collaborator Serafin Sanchez (saxophone, keys) to co-write a number of songs. The band incorporated voices, melodies, and words from throughout their collaborations – both on and off stage – into the songs on NOENEMIES.
From the beginning, Flobots’ sound defied categorization. Weaving conscious hip-hop lyrics and classical viola solos over live instrumentation, their anthems captured attention from all directions. When Flobots first catapulted onto the global scene in 2008 with their platinum single ‘Handlebars’ from their first album release Fight With Tools, it was the fastest charting song debut by a new artist in 10 years. Released during the frenzy of that year’s election, the band’s call to envision “another America” resonated with a generation experiencing a sense of profound political and social awakening. In a span of months, Flobots went from playing at local clubs to selling out tours internationally, performing on late-night television, signing a major label record deal, and receiving constant rotation on alternative radio.
Now, a decade later and with three critically acclaimed albums under their belt, Flobots are still dedicated to creating and performing anthems for a better world. And in 2017, amidst a nation taking to the streets, for Flobots that means delivering a unique brand of protest songs. Enter NOENEMIES – bringing the songs back to the people.
“Every single second is a blessing if you count them all,” sings frontman Matthew Roads. You can hear the sincerity in his voice; the joie de vivre that oozes from everything Tropidelic does is apparent. When they take a stage, their synergy flows member to member—horns blow, knees kicked high and grins are passed from one man to the next. Almost immediately it spreads to the crowd, lifting hands in the air as their feet begin to move and the pulse collectively becomes that of one.