The Negro Problem Play “Bleed”

The Negro Problem Joys and ConcernsListen to this track by Los Angeles folk-chamber-pop vehicle with a moniker laced with irony, The Negro Problem. It’s “Bleed”, a key track as taken from their 1999 album Joys & Concerns.

“The band” is more of an artistic vehicle for songwriter Mark Stewart, professionally credited and known as simply “Stew”. Being black in LA, his decision to record music that is inspired by more by Jimmy Webb than by Sly Stone is a rebellion against the undrawn lines of demarcation around who makes what kind of pop music and with whom — specifically if you’re not white.

Yet, Stew is a part of a continuum of music made in that city, most notably by Arthur Lee who made some of the same stylistic moves as Stew over thirty years before. Along these lines, maybe the name of the band isn’t all that ironic after all, or at least not in the way that one might think. That aside, this song is hinting at themes that go beyond all that still, out of the realm of musical divisions and into one of human foibles.
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