Seattle has a long-held reputation for being the home of an important indie rock scene but over the past few years, the Pacific Northwestern city has started to develop a reputation as the home of one of the most progressive, artistic and sonically challenging hip-hop scenes in recent memory, as acts such as Shabazz Palaces, Chirmurenga Renaissance and THEESatisfaction have received attention across the blogosphere both nationally and internationally.
In the case of THEESatisfaction, the duo comprised of emcee Stasia “Stas” Irons and vocalist Catherine “Cat” Harris-White can trace their origins to when the Harris-White and Irons were both students at the University of Washington. As the story goes, Irons used to frequent Harris-White’s appearances at a local open mic night, and Irons fell for Harris-White’s voice; in fact, Irons has publicity admitted that she would go to these open mic nights and blissfully zone out as Harris-White performed. After some time, Irons shored up the courage to approach Harris-White — and eventually, the duo began collaborating together.
Let’s fast-forward a few years, now. Several years later, Irons and White caught the attention of Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire, who were bringing together Seattle’s most talented, Black multi-disciplinary artists into a larger collaborative movement that Butler and Maraire dubbed The Black Constellation. Members of The Black Constellation have created gorgeously, immersive videos for several songs off Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction efforts, crafted an lengthy video and art installation dedicated to the science fiction author Octavia Butler, who’s work is largely considered among the forefront of the Afrofuturist movement, and have contributed guest spots on various other members albums. THEESatisfaction caught the attention of Shabazz Palaces’ label home, Sub Pop Records, after they had contributed backing vocals throughout Shabazz Palaces’ Black Up! and Lese Majesty — and as a result of those appearances (particularly, their appearance on Black Up!), the famed indie rock label signed Irons and Harris-White, and released their debut effort awE naturalE was released to critical praise,
Released earlier this year, the duo’s sophomore effort, EarthEE reflects both a change of sonic direction and The Black Constellation’s overall reputation for being eccentric, challenging, whimsical and decidedly pro-Black (without seeming overly militaristic). Interestingly, the album’s latest single and album title track, “EarthEE” sounds a though it were nodding heavily towards the sound on Shabazz Palaces Lese Majesty; in other words, you’ll gently undulating synths and explosive cymbal flashes paired with Harris-White’s silky vocals, Irons’ dexterous flow — and the single features guest spots from Shabazz Palaces’ Butler and Porter Ray.
According to the video’s director, Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, the video is “a short visual meditation on the textile traditions of home, sacred Geo Metrics, theta based communication and the whirling dervish. A sonically driven work of ancient Afro continuum…” In any case, the video is an appropriately trippy treatment for a song that possesses a subtle cosmic glow.