So an extreme rarity around here: I screwed up the original post so badly that I needed to re-post it. So apologies to the artists and the publicity team involved in this. My bad y’all. But back to the business at hand . . .
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 a difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach paired 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.
“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.
In the build up to the album’s release back in March, I’ve managed to write about two 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.”
Smiling With No Teeth’s fifth and latest single “Same Thing” sees the rapidly rising Aussie artist and his collaborators crafting a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, blasts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook paired with Owusu alternating between dexterously spitting densely worded bars and soulful crooning. And while bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay Thundercat, the song much like its predecessors thematically tackles mental health struggles.
“When the band and I were creating Smiling With No Teeth, we essentially made 60 hours of music for the album in 6 days,” Owusu recalls in press notes. ““‘Same Thing’ was one of the tracks born from the seemingly limitless SWNT sessions. The track is still in the realm of the album’s themes of mental health (more specifically, the crazy shit the mind makes up), so the video follows suit with a psychedelic barrage of both colourful and claustrophobic imagery.”