2017’s debut EP Cardrive found Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, 20-something artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly establishing himself as a perpetually restless genre-blurring chameleon with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling in diverse forms. Cardive EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NME, i-D, mixmag and others. Adding to a growing profile across Australia, Owusu has opened for Dead Prez, Col3trane, Sampa The Great, Cosmo’s Midnight, Noname, Animé, Ruel and others.
Last year, the rising Ghanian-born, Aussie-based artist released a handful of highly-celebrated singles including the fiery mosh-pit friendly banger “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio — and since then has received airplay in the UK on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRW, KUTX, The Current and Alt98. Those singles prominently appear on Owusu-Anash’s critically applauded full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth.
“Smiling With No Teeth is performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly,” Owusu explains in press notes. “Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.” Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. Callinan, Touch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel.
Over the course of the past six months, I’ve written about three of Smiling With No Teeth‘s singles:
- “The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
- “Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.”
- “Same Thing,” a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a propulsive bass line and infectious hook serving as a silky bed for Owusu’s alternating dexterous and densely worded bars and soulful crooning. But at its core is an unflinchingly honest — and necessary — view of mental health struggles.
Today, the acclaimed Aussie JOVM mainstay released Missing Molars EP, a five-track accompaniment to his critically applauded full-length debut. Recorded during the Smiling With No Teeth sessions, the Missing Molars EP material didn’t make the album — but further continue the soul-baring narrative of his debut. “Missing Molars is an extension of Smiling With No Teeth,” Owusu-Anash explains. “A small collection of tracks from the SWNT sessions that take the already established world-building groundwork of the album, and expand that universe into new and unexplored places. These are all tracks that I felt were special in their own right and needed to be shared. This is music without boundaries.”
Missing Molars‘ first single “The Fall” is a slick and pulsating synthesis of industrial house, hip-hop and future soul centered around skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, synth arpeggios. industrial clang and clatter paired with Owusu-Anash’s silky falsetto. The track conveys a restless and uneasy energy while being a pure banger.
Directed by directing duo VERSUS (Jason Sukadana and Tanya Babic), the recently released video or “The Fall” was shot in Australia’s Phoenix Central Park, an innovative space for collaboration and live exchange. Throughout the entire video, we see Owusu-Anash bound, restricted or hemmed in. At points we see him desperately attempting to escape and at others, he accepts it. But you can’t help but observe the rising Aussie’s larger-than-life energy and intensity. “There was a real sense of symbiosis on this project, when we first met with Kofi our ideas for the film meshed perfectly with the themes in a track he had just recorded,” VERSUS co-director, Jason Sukadana says. “When Kofi is in the room, you know you are in the presence of greatness. He’s truly one in a billion. His immense talent and groundbreaking vision will resound for generations,” co-director Tanya Babic adds.
Owusu will be embarking on a January Stateside tour that includes a January 25, 2021 stop at Bowery Ballroom. Check out the rest of the tour dates below — and you can check out the following for ticket information and more: https://www.genesisowusu.com/tour
Jan 13 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
Jan 15 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
Jan 17 Seattle, WA – Neumos
Jan 19 Denver, CO – The Bluebird
Jan 25 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
Jan 28 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
Jan 29 Nashville, TN – Basement East
Jan 30 Austin, TX – Antone’s