“Oh, I’m generally amazed. I’m also thinking about how we all, and I mean everyone, you know? We are all characters in this thing…this whole thing and you know, no one is a side character. There are no side characters, everyone is the main character.”
This is the response from the guy sitting next to me on my right, as the girl on my left challenged him with the question of “How are you doing tonight?”. “GENERALLY AMAZED is the best answer to that question I’ve ever heard!” I try to convey to this guy as genuinely as I can, he just takes another drag off a cigarette and smiles “well, I’m just really high right now.” It’s well past midnight and I’m sitting outside on the front porch of a dive bar wedged somewhere between under a bridge and in a hospital’s back parking lot- it’s The Nick Rocks, and I’ve just finished my quick chat interview with tonight’s headlininer of the SECOND Annual Magic City Acceptance Center Benefit- Linqua Franqua, aka Mariah aka Athens, GA District 2 Commissioner. The Nick is a special venue- if you play here, you are more likely to spend your time having a smoke outside on the porch that stretches the length of the venue hanging out with everyone who has wandered by than you would be in an artist green room. A veritable proving ground for countless bands, it’s renowned for it’s late night stage times and crowds. Mariah is in high spirits when we talk- we talk about the writing on her new material vs. her extremely-loop -listenable Model Minority and self titled EP, about her schoolwork (PH.D candidacy incoming) , new music on the decks and how maybe there is room for a genre of rap for people who react poorly to weed…
Linqua Franqua’s show involves a bit of visual aid. She sets up with her computer programmed with tonight’s set on a table on one side (sadly missing from tonight’s events is WesDaRuler), with a bicycle and a globe on the other. Was I imagining the globe? I’m pretty sure there was. Dressed in a blue worksuit, she erupts into an explosive flow- LF comes out of the gate in her lyrics not often found in hip hop- instead of a self-fueling bravado aiming to overcome circumstance, the challenge is often within, not measuring to her own standards: “Why can’t I be the prodigy my parents thought I’d be? Instead of squandering my doctorate” she raps over the beats of “Up Close” a track that would feel at home on a classic Dilated Peoples album. Relentlessly engaging, repeatedly changing up the visuals of her performance (the worksuit is shunned for a cocktail dress underneath- she hops on the bike for a stationary ride later during “Gold Bike”) all of these clever strategies to keep the late night audience engaged to her message- that the pride that we know about injustice on social media isn’t enough, that battles must be won with demons in yourself before the revolution can be fought anywhere else ..”waking up at 7, stretching and eating vegetables”- maybe the equivalent of Vince Lombardi’s famous back to basics halftime speech to his professional players (“This, is a football”). Poised, skilled on the mic and with an arsenal of killer tracks.
A lingua franca is a bridge language- something common shared between people that don’t speak the same language to find common ground with each other- and Mariah Parker is becoming that bridge in an era where political speakers and politicians have a tougher road than ever before to gain a trusting ear from the public.
I’m cheering for her.
You can find Linqua Franqua’s music at her Bandcamp https://linquafranqa.bandcamp.com
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