McKinley Dixon today shared “Chain Sooo Heavy,” the gripping third single from and opening track of his new album, For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her. “‘Chain Sooo Heavy’ is my view on the commodification of the black experience by an outside audience,” explains the Richmond, VA-based Dixon. “The way that trauma can be made palatable and marketable without consent, and how because of capitalism, it’s hard to escape the consolidating parts of you for an audience. It’s a self reflection on how I’m susceptible to that.” The song follows earlier pre-release singles “Swangin’” and “make a poet Black,” and highlights Dixon’s incisive lyricism as well as the album’s rhythmic interplay and array of instrumentation, including horns and keys. For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her is Dixon’s debut for Spacebomb Records and will be out May 7th.
For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her is the final piece of a trilogy following two self-released LPs by the 2018 NPR Music ‘Slingshot’ artist, who has always used his music as a tool for healing, exploring, and unpacking the Black experience in order to create stories for others like him. The album is the culmination of a journey where heartbreak and introspection challenged Dixon to adapt new ways of communicating physically and mentally, as well as across time and space. “Black people have an ability to talk about the concept of home—meaning communities, blocks, hoods—from a really thorough place because of those concepts’ connection to Blackness. That ability, and sort of already internalized and in place language, allows for the speaker (rapper) to exist in their current setting, while also being able to reminisce, dissect, and discuss their past,” he says. “I am here now, having learned what I have, and because of that I am able to go back and figure out patterns and trajectories to see better how I’ve gotten to this point. And to see what I can do differently for the community and people around me in the future to make where we’re going, together, better.”
This unique concept of rap as a form of time travel elevates the storytelling on For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her as it moves through different stages of Dixon unpacking and processing his surroundings. Throughout, Dixon works through inner demons, complex relationships with religion, and tries to make sense of mortality for Black peoples. “I think about the messaging, and how this can be a way for another Black person, someone who looks like me, to listen to this and process the past. Everything I’ve learned about communication for this album culminates with this bigger question about time. Is time linear when you’re still healing and processing?” he explains. “Storytelling is time travel, it’s taking the listener to that place. Quick time travel. Magic. These raps I’m making are no different than stories told around the campfire. They elongate the culture.”
For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her challenges Black people to revisit more than one timeline and question everything they’ve been taught about processing grief in order to rebuild their present and future selves. There’s no definitive end to the darkness and trauma of the past, but this album is a stepping stone in Dixon’s pursuit of moving forward, and being a voice for Black people still learning how to advocate for themselves.