On I Came From Love, Dave Okumu & The 7 Generations expose the horrors of chattel slavery and the generations of trauma that have followed in its wake. The album opens with “Things,” a brief but harrowing piece featuring Grace Jones that includes a quote from a slave owner named Elias Ball, who advised future slave owners to “buy land and buy young slaves.”
That quote sets the emotional tone for the album. With enslaved Africans legally conscripted to a lifetime of bondage, the practice of purchasing young children ensured owners a maximum return on their investment. Faced with the barbarity and hopelessness in the face of this cruelest of social institutions, perseverance became a key component of our collective culture. The song “7 Generations” tells the story of Black perseverance over a deep, reggae-style bassline and dramatic organ. Here, Okumu reminds Black people that we will survive despite having been torn from our ancestral lands and stripped of our language, identities, and culture.
“Blood Ah Go Run” ups the tempo, with minimal, post-punk-style drums, bass, and synth. A protest tune at heart, the chant that acts as the song’s hook offers a promise to the oppressors and enslavers of the world: “Blood ah go run if no justice no come.” “Streets” summons a bleak, gloomy tone with its half-sung and half-spoken vocal delivery and disjointed beats. “My Negritude” is built around a busy Afrobeat and an excerpt from Aime Cesaire’s 1939 poem “Notes On a Return to my Native Land.” Written as a critique of European colonialism and hegemony, Cesaire’s words animate the track, daring listeners to take a critical look at the brutal oppression that colonialism exported around the globe.
The album closes with “Paradise,” featuring another appearance by Grace Jones. If there is any resolution to I Came From Love, it can be found in this notion of perseverance and resistance that shapes this final song—a joyful and optimistic send-off, hinting at the beauty that Black folks have been able to carve out in this world, despite the historical traumas that have been reaped upon us.