Richmond, Virginia-based artist McKinley Dixon has always used his music as a tool for healing, exploring, and unpacking the Black experience in order to create stories for others like him. For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her, Dixon’s debut album on Spacebomb, is the culmination of a journey where heartbreak and introspection challenged him to adapt new ways of communicating physically and mentally, as well as across time and space.
The language accessibility aspect of this project draws right back to communication and connecting,” Dixon explains. “I think about the messaging, and how this can be a way for another Black person, someone who looks like me, to listen to this and process the past. Everything I've learned about communication for this album culminates with this bigger question about time. Is time linear when you’re still healing and processing? Westerners look at time travel as something to conquer or control—it's a colonizer mindset. That’s ignoring how time travel can be done through stories and non-verbal communication, and doesn't acknowledge how close indigenous people are to the land and the connections groups have because they’ve existed somewhere for so long. Storytelling is time travel, it's taking the listener to that place. Quick time travel. Magic.”
Never relying solely on beats, Dixon taps into a hybrid of jazz and rap, pulling in an array of piercing strings, soulful horns, percussion, and angelic vocalists throughout the album—plus features by Micah James, Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon, Pink Siifu, and more. Jazz instrumentals add a level of uncertainty, with the sounds and shifts evoking a lot of emotion and vulnerability. It’s an energy he describes as “Pre-Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly,” the era when rap adopted more live instrumentation.
The best way to sum up this album is: I was sad, I was mad, and now I’m alive,” Dixon explains. “These things I talk about on the record have had harmful and brilliant effects on my timeline, and have forced me to be cognizant of the fact that living is complex. Rap has allowed me the language to communicate, and be someone who can communicate with people from all over. Knowing how far I’ve come, I think people will find trust in the message I’m sending.”