Premiere: Stew & the Negro Problem, ‘Curse’


As songwriters, Stew and his longtime collaborator in the Negro Problem, Heidi Rodewald, have the moves of a boxer; They lure with melody, feint with hooks and jab with couplets, sometimes mercilessly. Race, relationships, artistic authenticity – they’ve gone a few rounds with them all over the course of four Negro Problem albums (and four more solo outings by Stew, the L.A. native born Mark Stewart). Now doing business as Stew & the Negro Problem, the duo – once a couple and still creative partners – today announced the January release of “Making It,” their first album since 2003. It’s their first release since relocating to New York City and becoming stage sensations – collaborating on the Tony-winning musical “Passing Strange,” which eventually became a Spike Lee-directed movie. “Making It” is powerful stuff – in large part a break-up album made by the people who broke up – showcasing the duo’s deft pop arrangements and incisive lyrical touch. Those who knew the Negro Problem back in the ’90s as forerunners of the Silver Lake scene, and those who came to know them as “show folk” in NYC, will welcome this collection for its pop craft, and maybe ache a little bit at the story.

||| Stream: “Curse”

||| Previously: An interview with Stew and Heidi Rodewald.