Tag: Noname

New Video: Genesis Owusu’s Shimmering and Brooding “Gold Chains”

With the release of his debut, 2017’s Cardrive EP, the rapidly rising Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, 20-something artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly established himself as a perpetually restless, genre-blurring chameleon with a defiant, difficult to pigeonhole sound an approach and an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling in diverse forms. Cardrive eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NME, i-D, mixmag and others. And adding to a growing profile, Owusu has opened for the likes of Dead Prez, Col3trane, Sampa The Great, Cosmo’s Midnight, Noname, Animé, Ruel and others in Australia.

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.

“Whip Cracker” and “Don’t Need You” will be on Owusu-Anash’s forthcoming 15 song Andrew Klippel-produced full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth. Slated for a March 5, 2021 release through House Anxiety/Ourness, Smiling With No Teeth reportedly sees the rising Ghanian-born, Aussie artist further honing and developing his genre-confounding sound and approach while charting the epic peaks and troughs of mental health struggles and his experience as a black man in a very white world that hates him — often for no particular reason. Much of the album’s material is centered round raw punk rock-like and hip-hop-like energy while routinely veering into industrial, punk, funk, trip hop and pop, sometimes within the same song. And as a result. the album’s brash and defiant material is seemingly dedicated to those who boldly refused to be boxed into stereotypes or cultural norms, and those who fit in everywhere and nowhere.

“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.

Late last year, I wrote about “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,” Smiling With No Teeth’s fourth and latest single is a brooding and seamless synthesis of old school soul, strutting and swaggering G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop. Centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, a sinuous bass line, stuttering boom bap beats and squiggling blasts of guitar, “Gold Chains” finds the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist adopting a sort of 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.”

Directed by frequent visual collaborator Riley Blakeway, the recently released video for “Gold Chains” alternates between luxurious and glossy, 70s inspired glam, glitter and commodities and a behind-the-scenes look at desperation and loneliness. The cars, gold, money and fame are empty and phony — and ironically only add to the protagonist’s increasing dissatisfaction with everything, including himself. “The video is about the hollowness of a lot of the things we hold as idols,” the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist told The Fader. “The shiny things that get made to look like goals from the outside looking in, but in reality won’t be the source of happiness that we’d hoped for. The gold chains become shackles.”

Thundercat · Dragonball Durag (Remix) [feat. Guapdad 4000 & Smino]

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is was released earlier this year through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

It Is What It Is‘ second single, “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Thundercat’s fourth album was released to widespread critical applause earlier this year and continuing the momentum as best as he could in light of pandemic-related lockdowns, the JOVM recently released a remix of “Dragonball Durag,” that features St. Louis emcee and vocalist Smino and Los Angeles-based emcee, vocalist, creative and like-minded anime fanatic Guapdad 4000. Smino is the co-founder of the Zero Fatigue collective, which features Bari, Monte Booker, Jay2 and Rayvn Layne — and he’s a member of of Ghetto Sage with Saba and Noname. Gaupdad 4000 and Smino are also members of hip-hop supergroup Zoink Gang with JID and Buddy. So all of these brothers are insanely busy. As far as the remix, it’s a straightforward take on the song that with the addition of Guapdad and Smino’s verses, add a new and ridiculous context to the song.  The swag is more, the fuckboi assholery is more and it’s fucking hilarious.