Anyone who followed my writing over the years knows that — aside from being especially drawn to eclectic groups — I am a sucker for a great story. This week, I found both of those things after being put on to a new release titled WORD from Hyattsville-based band The Mighty Heard. Yet, it isn’t new at all. In fact, it’s close to a decade old.
They recorded the material back in 2010 while gaining traction as they became staples on the Washington, DC live music scene. However, as it often does, life took the individual members on different paths just two years later. Sadly, group member Dullah D suffered a stroke and ultimately succumbed to brain failure in 2017 — a tragedy that reunited them. Notably, the event sparked a need to release the group’s sole body of work into the world as a salute to their fallen brothers (they also lost percussionist Gerard Bingham).
“We lost a couple of friends along the way, God bless ’em all we’ll love ’em to this day.”The Mighty Heard
People often use the word timeless liberally, but this LP appears to have mimicked the properties of the finest wine you can imagine. Though the sense of loss and ultimate finality weighed on my mind and heart going into WORD, the project doesn’t allow you dwell as it grabs you by the collar and proceeds to deliver a fantastic set of music that I would kill to experience live.
If you’re a fan of live music groups, like say, The Roots, this is up your alley — though don’t expect anything nearly as jazzy and clearcut in terms of its Hip Hop aesthetic (and nothing as intense as Black Thought’s rhyme schemes). Not to say that this isn’t just as poignant in terms of content, but it’s different in a good way. There are Dullah’s distinct bars, and there’s Terry T’s soulful voice, and then there is the band’s lovingly crafted brand of unabashed funk that envelopes and feeds off the two; it’s a complex dynamic that makes the music so inexplicably warm.
I was pleasantly surprised at the project’s depth as well. While “Butt that Funk” sets the tone early on, it finds itself getting reflective, socially conscious, and even sexy as it moves along. “How Many Kids” reworks Extra P’s bars from the Main Source hit “Looking At The Front Door” into a song about abusive and absentee fathers — and the influence it can have on children and the paths they later take.
“Bad Things” was another moment I found myself running back over and over. It takes a rather dark tone juxtaposed with the rest of the project, but I found it contains some of the LP’s shiniest raps.
My fav song here ended up being the love song, “Deep.” I generally operate on emotions when it comes to music that lasts the test of time within my rotations. In particular, that song became a soundtrack for a late-night drive I took before penning this article.
This project gave me the same feeling of satisfying discovery as when I go record digging for obscure records — despite being contemporary. It’s a time capsule of sorts that manages to be so fresh and immediate that hearing its actual age is almost jarring. Though it was loss and sadness that pushed the group to give that period of their lives the sense of full-circle closure it deserves, its energy makes it the perfect tangible tribute that they and all those who hold the group’s memory can hold on to forever.
Sadly, I missed the boat on the vinyl pre-order. This type of project would be in great company in my crates, but digital is a great consolation experience and a CD version on their Bandcamp for those interested.
The Mighty Heard’s WORD is available now via Growroom Productions.