Live & Local
Live & Local: Third Root CD release party
Published: June 27, 2012
With a focused ferocity fitting the sultry June evening when the Heat had just smashed the heads of the Thunder for the NBA trophy, Third Root took the stage for an inaugural performance at On the Half Shell. They brought a blistering onslaught of exalted poetic testimonio extolling San Anto's unique mix of brown, black, and Texas funk world culture, and it had the mestizo Saytown crowd pulsing throughout in the full frisson Cuisinart setting.
Backed by deft DJ Ninja, maestro percussionist Jai Roots, and Eric González on electric guitar, Easy Lee and Marco Cervantes walked the talk of their debut tracks from Stand for Something (downloadable for purchase at thirdroot.bandcamp.com) in impressively virtuosic 3D-real form. When you can execute your (digital) wax in your first live, real time outing, that says something.
But Cervantes and Easy Lee are veterans; the first is a UTSA college professor Bruce Wayne to his proletarian Chicano insurrectionary Batman persona as Mexican Stepgrandfather; Easy Lee the studious toastmaster of San Antonio's legendary R&B, soul, funk, rap phalanx Mojoe. Once the crowd was adequately sweated up, Easy Lee told how Third Root was born out of "beats and conversations" between him and "Mexstep" after a show at a collaborative show at SXSW, and the dream of a black-brown, Afro-Chicano supergroup was born.
The duo feverishly chanted their novel race-rap hermeneutics, urging their listeners to a new understanding of our borderlands identities in their opening "Brother, Brother," celebrating a new romantic embrace ("…Afro, Peruvian, Mestizo, Nubian…") of New World ancestry. Denouncing thug capitalism, vestigial racism, and faddish acquiescence, Third Root didn't glitch a line as they dropped their "lyrics you can act on." This was prophetic music from the new Tejas, a majority-minority state, and astoundingly, their forward-leaning black-brown política makes Public Enemy's righteous critique feel suddenly dated. The brothers rocked throughout, thrilling onlookers that included many soul enthusiasts, assorted hipsters, and a couple of grandmothers. Mexican Stepgrandfather fired through a righteous solo set and Ninja offered an old-school rap and R&B intermission mix. Then Mojoe stepped up and reminded the crowd of Texas' funky soul heritage.
"This smells like history," said Easy Lee as Third Root launched into "Stand for Something," the album's title song, with Álvaro del Norte of Piñata Protest trilling his accordion, chanting, "Look inside, and you feel sky-high."
He's right. The room felt electric, full of the loud energy of new ideas being born, ideas that could make a difference.