From 1478-1458 BCE Hatshepsut ruled over Egypt - effectively - as Egypt’s first female Pharaoh. Hatshepsut assumed the throne when her husband, and then current Pharaoh, Thutmose II, died making her a widow. Thutmose II and Hatshepsut did not have any sons and the next in line for the throne, Thutmose III, was only an infant, thus forcing Hatshepsut to assume the role as Pharaoh. While her route to the throne may seem accidental, her reign as Pharaoh proved to be anything but an accident. Egypt saw great economic growth, increased trade, and she took on new building projects – Temple of Karnak, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. Taking on a role that was historically dominated by men is no easy task, but her reign as Pharaoh challenges the assumptions and preconceived notions of what a King is, begging the question, what is the anatomy of a King when disentangled from gender constructs? Consider the all female trio, KING, comprised of Anita Bias, Paris Strother and Amber Strother. A seemingly ironic name for an all-female group, but once you dig deeper you see a music group that produces, writes, and has complete creative control over their own material, a rarity in 2016. Similar to Queen Hatshepsut, KING, is in control of their empire and fully encompasses the title of being King.
On February 5th, the Los Angeles based trio, KING, released their first full-length album We Are KING. KING’s release comes five years after releasing their three-song EP The Story, released via Soundcloud, which gained the attention of artists with the likes of Prince, Kendrick Lamar, Robert Glasper, Questlove and many others. Needless to say, their much-awaited release hasn’t disappointed.
Sonically, We Are King is laden with synthesizers, keyboards, beautifully crafted dream-like stacked vocal harmonies, and drum machine rhythmic patterns – all creating a beautiful atmosphere of sound. Stylistically, KING’s sound is reminiscent of late 80’s and early 90’s R&B, Soul, Gospel, and Jazz. With the Trio meeting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and being raised in the church, their multi-faceted sound comes as no surprise, as their sound may, in part, be a product of their environment.
Thematically, We Are King tells stories of past relationships, love, heartbreak, disappointment, and hope for future relationships. We Are KING also includes extended versions of“Supernatural,” “Hey,” and “The Story,” all of which were on their EP The Story. We Are King also explores the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali, paying homage to him on “The Greatest (Ali).” The album closes with “Native Land,” which uses West African tribal-like drum rhythmic patterns, evoking an almost mystical sound. “Native Land” speaks of the quest and necessity of going to ones native land to seek answers, singing, “planning a pilgrimage to my native land/history in the hints held by ancient hands.”