On the fairness of femininity
In talking about A Woman Undressed one is confronted with an array of themes which when treated to cursory attention may appear to be a singular theme. But beyond cursory attention, one sees this album for what it is; a simplification of vast complexities. A Woman Undressed has its focal point on the fairness of femininity, with emphasis on an elaborate expression of its sexuality while addressing issues of racism and colorism, rights activism and political liberation.
This is an album of eleven tracks with each track differing from the other in theme, style, and delivery. Starting off with the track, My Superior, we see KSsence treat us to a lyrical delivery laden with sexual allusion bereft of vulgarity. This could be considered stylish in a sense. The communication of imagery is effortless. Ingenious. In this track, the narrator describes an admirer’s infatuation, as though it were happening, and then the track ends with the narrator on the brink of reenacting these infatuations. It leaves the listener with the satisfaction that a wish is about to come true. Yet the listener is left with suspense, eager to verify whether the action plays out as it had been made to imagine.
The second track on the album, Shhh, is delivered with a different style, playing on tempo, feeling and rhythm, with periodic backup vocals that are reminiscent of classical depictions of The Fates. It makes the listener begin to imagine a theatrical rendition of this performance.
You might begin to think that KSsense is leaning lightly on erotica until you progress towards Fuck Your Mind. It is as it is insinuated. Expressive and unbridled. The delivery on this one takes repeated dips and then explodes in orgasmic outbursts. It is a journey into the recesses of your mind; that mental attic that for too long has gone unnoticed and where so much of your sensual faculties are pocketed away.
I’m Still In Love comes off as a note to an estranged lover. It is telling. Imploring. Confrontational. Confessional. The melodic backup is a bring-back of the emphatic style employed in Shhh. This style effectively offers dynamics and depth; a safety against monotony.
With Light Skinned, we are offered insight into the narrator’s longing for absolute Africanness. It questions the politics of colorism which is very much a topical issue in diaspora African communities but which escapes the consciousness of continental African communities. The narrator takes on a trip to experience the inner conflicts of an African child who has a non-African parent but who desires an absolute phenotypical expression of the identity they wholly wish to identify with.
The album, in setting out to address contemporary issues that bear on social conscience, would not be complete without talking about body positivity. And KSsence delivers on this theme with Fat Chick on A Corner. The style is different from the rest in that it comes with musical accompaniment; sparse, and obviously for taste.
“This world is not correct, so I can’t be politically correct…”
So goes a line in the track Institutional Racism. The tone is direct and as confrontational as the title suggests. It is a harsh take on systemic racism and discrimination - a reality in multiracial societies. “All I am is a statistic to show that they have failed their equality and diversity checklist …” The delivery is poetic and laden with punch lines; a good thing to observe judging by the weight of the theme.
Creativity takes on new forms as one progresses along the album. In Hello S’phonia, the delivery ends with a hiss - the disapproving kind you get from an African aunt. Yet never has such a gesture been considered artistic even as it finds suitable usage in a lyrical delivery centered around a crisis of identity.
In critiquing this album one begins to see, as stated earlier, that just as a painter uses pigments as his medium to capture a worldly essence, KSsense employs the celebration of a woman’s body in capturing aspects of our tangible and intangible world. Using the body as its focal point, KSsense divides the themes of this album between their relevance for the individual and for the collective: with sexuality and boy positivity, the relevance for the individual is catered to; and with colorism, racism and identity, social issues as they concern the collective are addressed.
It is most likely that with this album we have come to realize that a woman undressed embodies the totality of our universe, including our interactions and interpretations of it.