Inspired by the book that was banned from classrooms in the 60s because of its compassionate depiction of those society viewed as “monsters,” Cliff Notez parallels the story of Where The Wild Things Are to the narrative of what it means to be Black in America.

Why The Wild Things Are is a dense, brilliantly dark, and uncensored album that expresses the plight of being Black in America. Much of the album centers on the psychology behind oppression and racial discrimination. Some tracks root for rebellion, with trumpets flying high as voices singing of breaking free of societal chains; others shout with vigor as exhausted, bruised voices demonstrate they’ve had enough. With over twenty features scattered throughout the track list, there’s a strong sense of community and representation emphasized in this project—the voices of the revolution.

The jingle of a sinister-sounding wind-up box stirs the air on “Rebel.” Shortly after, fervent vocals and heavy bass stomp in and shout, “I think it’s ‘bout time we rebel!” The production maintains this menacing tone until a soft voice breaks up the brisk beat and sings, “Lullaby / Say goodnight / Don’t fall asleep / Or you’ll lose your mind.” Without warning, vigorous vocals creep in and snatch the soft moment away: “Now the cop is saying ‘lay flat … n**** face facts / Take that/ Got you little fucker, where you apes at?’… breakin’ bones trying to snap a brother like a Kit-Kat.” These haunting verses paint violent images surrounding the grim realities of police brutality. He goes on saying, “Ain’t no therapist that I got, so I put it all in a poem / I’m a product of my environment.” This chilling portrayal of the inhumane treatment Black people have historically faced not only outlines the injustice of discrimination, but the psychological toll this takes on those who face such cruel treatment and how rap has proven to be a critical source in healing. 

Get Free” comes in a few tracks later with its soulful, yet profoundly bare production. Stomps, claps, and gasps are the sole beat of this track, as they whither through thick silence. This kind of production allows the impact to fall solely on the chorus which begs a close listen. Cliff Notez and Cee stir their vocals together as they sing, “I can’t wait until I get free.” 

The concluding track, “Get Free II,” the sequel to “Get Free,” dances to a different beat. MyCompiledThoughts joins Cliff Notez on this one as they ride through a bouncy beat, featuring sprightly samples from Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock’sIt Takes Two” while exploring personal narratives surrounding mental stability, grief, and the road to freedom. They sing, “Can’t think of suicide cause I think about how badly she’d feel / What about me? What about my pain? / What about Black Lives Matter? / Ever been called a n*** and then have your dad die after?” The song concludes with verses from“It Takes Two,” implying that nothing can evolve unless we all come together. The track then bleeds into a recording of a voice that assures listeners that “Despite everything, if you didn’t have the ability or potential to handle it, it wouldn’t be sent your way. The decision is yours, will you handle it? Or let it handle you?” 

Why The Wild Things Are” is a masterful portrayal of the Black American narrative, expressing the labyrinth of emotions that people of color endure in the face of discrimination. Cliff Notez and his many featured artists treat this album like a diary, completely guided by unfiltered emotion, fortifying its weight. Whether it be anger, sorrow, hope, or defeat, the dark and profound psychological toll that racism takes is illustrated without hesitation or restriction. With this album, Cliff Notez delivers us a beautifully raw and thoughtfully composed album that we as a nation, for more reasons than one, must experience.

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