Pink Siifu’s latest release, GUMBO!, is another sprawling Afrocentric vision from one of the boldest voices in contemporary rap. Following up on 2020’s NEGRO, the album’s songs are as rich and varied as its titular stew. Siifu’s boundless style makes for an unpredictable but rewarding ride across the album’s 18 tracks, as he explores the diverse sounds of his influences and breaks new ground with a unique class of co-stars.
Siifu, born Livingston Matthews and raised between Alabama and Cincinnati, has already notched a conspicuous list of collaborations in his burgeoning career, from legendary producer the Alchemist to Australian electronic group the Avalanches. Siifu also embodies various inspirations through a range of alter-egos, often producing under the moniker “iiye,” or as half of the duo B. Cool-Aid with Ahwlee, both of which appear on GUMBO!.
The variety of guest features and production on GUMBO! only elevates Siifu’s ability to push the boundaries of genre and song structure. “Voicemails Uptown” (produced by Soulection’s Monte Booker) is the second of two back-to-back posse cuts, sporting five plus vocalists each. “Lng hair dnt care,” the album’s first single, was produced by Ted Kamal, who first garnered attention for his outside-the-box edits of contemporary rap staples. And while several of the album’s tracks are well within his bag, the jazzy, drumless loop on “Fk U Mean/Hold Me Dwn” could’ve been a cut off of his collab album with Virginia rapper Fly Anakin, FlySiifu’s.
Though rife with standout tracks, GUMBO! is greater than the sum of its parts. Siifu’s ambitious range and impressive pool of features create an otherworldly listening experience. Overall, it reflects an intense desire for self-expression and creative growth, one which he shares with many of his influences. Like Outkast, Sun Ra, Baraka, or Bad Brains, his unique soundscapes re-imagine a genre without restrictions, breaking new ground in search of artistic and personal freedom.