Dope KNife and Linqua Franqa are the firebrands behind the iHeartRadio’s “Waiting on Reparations” podcast, which combines charged political discourse about issues that affect Black people today with virtuosic hip hop performance.
Kedrick Mack (aka Dope KNife) is well known in the Savannah music community having co-founded the seminal record label and rap collective Dope Sandwich in the mid-2000s. Since moving back to Savannah a year ago, Mack has been a constant live presence in the city, churning out singles every month, and currently striking out on a tour with rapper Heir Max.
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Mariah Parker (aka Linqua Franqa) is a major force in the Athens hip hop scene, and just also happens to be Athens-Clarke County District 2 Commissioner. Parker recently became a mother, and released their latest full-length album, “Bellringer,” a collection of neo-soul infused songs about topics like police brutality, social media addiction, mental health, anti-capitalism, labor organizing. Bellringer features guest appearances from of Montreal, Jeff Rosenstock, Kishi Bashi, and activist/author Angela Davis.
As County Commissioner, Parker has been fighting for one of the poorest districts in Athens, but there is little separation between their careers as a politician, a podcast host, and a rapper.
“I regard my work like a baker does,” said Parker.
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“I might be baking some rye, some banana bread, some sourdough; while the flavors come out different the ingredients and process remains largely the same. My sets are pretty politically charged, and it’s important to me to use the art form to educate, inspire, and build coalition. And I feel like I bring a good deal of battle rap intensity to City Hall.”
The ambitious and extremely active Parker is also working on a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Georgia.
“I turn in my doctoral dissertation four days after the Wormhole show and two weeks after that, I’ll be a doctor!” said Parker excitedly. “I’m a lifelong student of language in many forms — I speak Portuguese, I’ve studied poetry and journalism, I’ve run experiments on Russian translation — hip hop is just one of those. But getting my Master’s degree in linguistics opened my eyes to the ways that the puzzle pieces of English — affixes, prepositions, conjugations, prosody, slant rhyme — can be rearranged and recombined, which have greatly influenced my writing process.”
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Mack met Parker when he opened for Sage Francis in 2015 and stayed connected with them through the underground hip hop world. In 2018, Mack and Parker teamed up for a spot on Adult Swim as well as a tour. The duo called themselves Waiting on Reparations and a podcast was born.
“The podcast really came out of all that when we were approached about the podcast,” said Mack. “Stuff we talk about on the show is mainly the type of sh** that dominates our conversations in real life and musically anyway, so in that sense it doesn’t feel like a job.”
What was supposed to be a music podcast quickly mutated into a political podcast with a music element.
“I can only speak for our show, but it’s so damn hip hop that it feels one in the same to me,” explained Mack. “Besides the first handful of episodes, its really not a formal show at all. Well, maybe formally hip hop. Whether we talking to someone running for Congress or a rapper we admire. I think the rapping we do in every episode adds to that vibe.”
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Linqua Franqa’s “Bellweather” is out now on streaming services and Bandcamp, and fans can also expect a new album, “The Dope One,” from Dope KNife on Connecticut label Fake Four, Inc.
“I’m super excited about it and we’re in start if that process soon,” said Mack. “The constant writing raps on the podcast have turned Mariah and I into machines in terms of rap stuff. I’m personally in like a constant fugue state and I’m just churning out songs. Since I don’t know how long the world’s gonna be around anymore I’m not trying to sit on music, so I’ve been trying to at least put out a song a month until album rollout.”
On the eclectic bill with Waiting for Reparations are local rock bands Black Hat and The Maxines.
“I’m a fan of both bands and while I haven’t worked with either, Maxines’ member Veronica (Garcia-Melendez) and I are frequent music collaborators as she’s played keys on my last two solo albums.”
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Mack and Parker are bringing Waiting on Reparations to the Wormhole as a rap performance rather than a political talk show, but really there is not much difference between the two as far as the duo are concerned.
“Its something we figured out in reverse, cause it was originally conceived as our rap duo almost a year before iHeartRadio scooped us up,” said Mack. “Its political, its irreverent, its soul crushing and also a party. It’s just us and our unique rapport with one another.”
That rapport will shine through when they perform in Savannah conjuring memories of other great Dope KNife collaborations.
“Mariah and I have dynamic similar to what I had with Miggs,” promised Mack. “Savannah is gonna love it. Maybe we’ll record a live episode in Savannah one day, too.”
What: Waiting on Reparations w/ Black Hat and The Maxines
When: Saturday at 10 p.m.
Where: The Wormhole, 2307 Bull Street