qPOC…&LMNOP by Chico’s Brother
review by Nick Gardner
So often we find ourselves caught up in arguments of politics, discussing race and gender, citing articles we have read, or anecdotes we have been told without questioning our personal truths. As Chico’s Brother, Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz rejects this PC banter and academic discourse in favor of introspection in his new album “qPOC…&LMNOP” (available on Bandcamp). This series of songs replaces politics with heart, pushing grand narratives into the periphery in order to locate the personal narrative in the forefront.
It must be noted that Aurelio has not broken form from his previous album. Each song is derived from specific experiences. There is a vivid dream, a short history of his father and grandfather, a song for friend who passed away. Each track is personal, an internal struggle, but when converted to music and shared with the world, it becomes something we can all relate to.
In order to express the relevance of the individual, in “The Blaque Queer,” Aurelio confronts the listener with his polemic against a derogatory interaction with some haters from a DIY music scene who told him “‘a gay brown man isn’t priority’.” He entices them, saying: “Wanna step to me? Find me at La Luna.” Aurelio’s music has been described as “sweet as candy, and ready to cut you,” and this song is definitely ready to cut you. A monorhythm booms steadily as Diaz raps about the elitist, PC kids who were offended by his lyrics, calling them out on the pretension involved in deciding who deserves to be heard.
But while this first song is rather brash and fueled by anger, it is followed by a series of songs that prove to back-up Aurelio’s point: that he will continue to “challenge issues the way I see fit.” It must be noted that Aurelio’s music has never taken itself too seriously. The second track does this by leading the listener through a vivid, absurdist dream called “Fetus in the Octopus Inque.” This is followed by an ode to rooftops and living in precarious positions with “Roof, I Thee Wed.” Of course, he does become a bit more serious, however satirical, as he digs into his own family’s narrative in “Build A Wall.”
The listener dives into a sea of dark-tinged fantasy, a mythology of musical introspection. In “Build A Wall,” Diaz shows the true heroes of America in his hardworking Mexican-American father and grandfather overshadowed by the current political climate. It is a touting of the need for personal narratives over the myopic grand narratives of government.
The final track is “Tires and Scientology (Gin & Tonic Remix),” a personal perambulation of the postindustrial wasteland that is Diaz’s back yard. Oscillating drums and echoic back-up vocals make this song a dream, at once creepy, sad, and beautiful, finding its way through religion, drugs, dive bars, and an abandoned, waterlogged stuffed bear. It is not so much a lament, but a coming to terms with the self in the current climate.
Overall, the listener is taken from indignation to a peace that can only be found through self-reflection. There are other messages in this album, of course, but overriding all is a message to keep your head up under the pressure of those judging others. It is Aurelio’s Avant-ghetto reminder that the clique isn’t cool, the PC is generally bougie, and that who we are as individuals is worthwhile. All our narratives are worth telling. They are bigger than the scene.
qPOC…&LMNOP is available on Bandcamp
Some songs available Sound Cloud
Follow Chico’s Brother on Facebook