Download: The Five One’s “Mandatory”
It's damn near impossible to categorize The Five One's music and ideals. The band, with its self-described Haitian indie-rock flair, blends hip-hop with Caribbean rhythms. The ideals? Well, the Reston quartet personifies itself as colors: The members call themselves, and dress in, Red, Blue, Green, and Gold. (Don't ask their government names, because they won't tell you.) It all boils down to the idea that each person has a color, and the world can live together under one rainbow.
"People can think we're self-centered or self-righteous because of how dedicated we are to our beliefs," Green told me recently. "We are completely trying to unify people with these ideals, and if you respect what we do, then you're lucky enough to be in the loop."
Such is the topic of "Mandatory," the breezy, Caribbean-themed first single from the group's upcoming RED BLUE GREEN GOLD album, whose release date is TBD. The five-minute song, which showcases Red's fluid guitar work, is all about the unification and support. Gold, assisted by the ever popular Auto-tune, sings about the unwavering support he receives from a high-school flame, while Blue—the band's drummer—rhymes about a woman struggling to find her own color. "...You need only reach for me, I aid you with my hands/But the journey for your color you’re gon' have to take alone," Blue raps.
I'm a proud member of Jay-Z's Auto-tune hate group, so "Mandatory" took time to stick. Still, it's a stirring tune from a colorful cast of characters.
Download "Mandatory" here.