reviewing Madlib’s “Shades of Blue” from the hospital room

Kaja Rae Lucas


yah / yah / yah. my daddy told me young what nigga means. mostly ‘cause my body wasn’t willing to stay
in the box. he told me with that whiplash tongue that if i’m a nigga then i gotta be a boy. yah / yah / yah.
my momma told me late that she ain’t really think a trans person is a person. i stay lucid on blue note
recordings. i stay haphazard with my voice twisting up. my mind told me what a razor does. // curiosity
killed the cat and can calm the cut and can call the country back from its six foot plot. // i mean, the
hospital is just an extension of what daddy taught me. yah / a nigga always end up institutionalized. that
means i’ll be coming back for a visit. yah / melvin sparks keeps telling my language to shut the fuck up.
nah / i ain’t gonna. i think i’m gon’ lean on abstraction. lean on abstract basslines. bonita applebum
bouncing on the tip of my tongue. yah / nah / yah. i keep thinking about MF DOOM and if he put Earl
onto hope. if he put the black boys who didn’t believe in nothing onto a faith in backbeats and kickdrums.
i keep imagining q-tip calling me home. i fuckin miss phife dawg. my momma told me in the hospital i
fucked up again. i think she knows it’s really her who made the mistake.

but yah / she always right. and nah / i ain’t ever wholly human.