Uncompromising is the through line each loose Soundcloud upload has shared leading up to Al Rogers Jr.‘s Luvadocious record. At least, at passing glance that would be an accurate read as a bouncy pop track like “BlueGreen” is stacked against “Honey” addressing the Baltimore uprising in May. And perhaps that uprising was the catalyst of Luvadocious, which is Rogers Jr.’s imagined world where god is feminine and love is not feared. Many of the anxieties explored on “Honey” like poverty and oppression are given deeper meditations on Luvadocious in hopes of discovering transcendence—liberation from that ghetto of the mind.
The Luvadocious concept explores this new world of fearless living through radio transmissions by Godina, the black goddess played by Baltimore radio personality Ladawn Black. The eponymous overture invites the listener to loosen up, conveyed through a side show introtoletuknow that Rogers Jr. has transported us to an alternate universe.
That said, Al Rogers Jr. is not an eccentric-to-a-fault, Willy Wonka type guide promising immediate alleviation of strife. Yes, the record envisions utopian worlds, but that does not mean Rogers Jr.’s head is so far in the clouds he cannot see the cracks in the pavement. The production on “Godina” pounds the concrete in the key of an industrial urban decay. Rogers Jr. is firmly implanted, “mesmerized by mug shots across every church block / make a nigga heart drop.” “OodlesNoodles (Good 4 You)” finds him channeling a desperation that comes with true poverty, the stress in his voice not unlike Kendrick Lamar’s character work in the second suite of “u”. In fact, Al Rogers Jr. delivers many vocal styles across the record, some baring comparative cues, but with each expression it cannot be misconstrued as anything but fearless. To get hung up on comparisons only misses the intent.
Produced entirely by Drew Scott of Blacksage, the versatility of the album, as it winds through Dungeon Family-esque afro futurism into Baltimore club, makes no compromises and holds no hands. This is not guided listening, but a record that gives few fucks if it loses you along the way. And while the club tracks bring mire to Al Rogers Jr.’s excursion, by “U>M” he’s singing “motherfuck shade / we bask in sunlight.”