On Hurray for the Riff Raff’s new album The Navigator (out Friday 10 March 2017 via ATO Records), Alynda Segarra tells an interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul at a crossroads of identity and ancestral weight. It finds a street kid named Navita traversing a perpetually burning city in search of herself. The Navigator is a thrilling call to arms that could not come at a more crucial time. It also finds Hurray for the Riff Raff at its own musical intersection, delving deep into the worlds of Latin rhythms, searing rock and incisive ballads.
The Navigator was produced by Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Devendra Banhart) and recorded at Electric Lady Studios in NYC and Panoramic House in California. The album features percussionists Juan-Carlos Chaurand, Gregory Rogove (Rodrigo Amarante), a trio of Bomba drummers and Doo Wop singers from New Jersey.
The 12 original songs were inspired by Segarra’s own journey from the South Bronx to the downtown punk scene and beyond in search of her identity. She looked to poetry including Pedro Pietri’s Puerto Rican Obituary and the Nuyorican Cafe, the singer-songwriter Rodriguez, Puerto Rican activist groups the Young Lords and the Ghetto Brothers, Fania Records and more. Lead track ‘Rican Beach’ addresses the gentrification of the South Bronx and the co-opting of Puerto Rican culture in NYC and beyond. The razor-sharp rock of ‘Living In The City’ tells the story of a city on fire, inhospitable to the marginalised. ‘Hungry Ghost’ is an introspective anthem about Navita trying to find her voice. ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change That Girl’ foreshadows the emergence of The Navigator, a super heroine that saves her people from a dystopian future by reconnecting them with their ancestors and pride.
The significance of releasing this video on the day the Army Corps of Engineers plans to evict the water protectors of Standing Rock does not escape me. I think of the water protectors and I think of the people of Peñuelas, Puerto Rico who are demanding an end to the AES dumping of coal ash which leads to water contamination.
All over the world there are heroes who, despite suffering generations of oppression, are protecting the land and the future of our humanity. ‘Rican Beach’ is a fictional place, but it was written with my ancestors in mind. It’s time to call on yours and to always remember: this land was made for you and me.
Hurray for the Riff Raff will tour extensively in 2017 and today announce a spring tour in support of the album, which will see the tour head to the UK, Europe and the US.