Music Pills doesn’t deal with rap that often. Dealt with Milo alias Rory Ferreira last year but at the same time, there was a little complaint about understanding the lyrics because who writes is not anglophone and so trying to know the rap matter deeply had a lot of difficulties involved. Anyway, I’ve found a rapper who is very clear about what to say because the will to express thoughts is very strong and motivated. This artist is a trans woman called Backxwash coming from Zambia, and her album Deviancy could be a milestone on her path. Real name Ashanti Mutinta, she isn’t a newbie in releasing music: the EP F.R.E.A.K.S and the LP Black Sailor Moon make a statement about what B. thinks of her identity, and Deviancy is a step forward in criticizing oppression and patriarchism. Let’s dive in.
- Don’t Come to the Woods
- Devil in a Moshpit
- Foundation + Face Tattoos
- Bad Juju
- I Will Meet You by the River
- You Like my Body the Way It Is
- Burn Me at the Stake
Someone on Youtube defined Don’t Come to the Woods witch-hop. Whoever said this, could be pretty true. The video-clip for this single shows a wild B. in a black dress in the middle of a forest, waving around like possessed by an evil spirit, characterized with white eyes and horns. She defines herself as the witch in the forest, a creature that finds both shelter and dangers in the darkness among the trees, a place that could be isolated and dangerous but at the same time peaceful and far from the chaos of prejudice of civilized places. All this is served on a minimal plate of industrial drum and bass flavored by samples of a warning choir and maybe…barking dogs? The barks give the piece a sense of chasing that fits well with the general atmosphere.
In Devil in a Moshpit B. makes a statement against the evil of man that because of personal fears rejects everything different from him, so the dancefloor becomes a trap where men just go to harass people. So she met the devil in a moshpit and just states the fact that the evil is there to destroy things and the only way is to sneak from the back. The frenzy of the pit is given by a funky bass as simple as intricated in combining three simple notes at that speed and the guitar playing pentatonics makes the contrast between the gravity of the topic and the fun that one should expect from the pit.
Foundation + Face Tattoos is a cry of experienced poverty against a rich-oriented status quo. She’s never been a rich bitch, so like a sort of modern Robin Hood, she makes her way running up the ways to their buildings. Maybe this way of thinking is that too harsh but is to give to sisters that need it. It’s a sort of trap track, with the pitched-up voices providing the upper melodies, a well-grounded bass in the lower frequencies, and the slow but tight rapping in the middle.
Bad Juju is the most classic rap song of the record but still a statement of being the bad witch who doesn’t care about conservatism and freely talks about trans, drags and fags.
The title track is the very bad guy here. Industrial bass, distortion sliding through evil verses full of anger, sampled crashes and metal noises to spice up the rhythm while talking lyrics of tyranny and war towards an Africa who refuses to accept what’s happened and just go on: The battles over but I swear the war has only begun. Especially towards the end, a melody both synthetic and dissonant still burns after a moment of silence, testifying with the sound that the war drums still beat hard despite the compromise has already been signed.
Sixth on the list, I Will Meet You by the River is the instrumental track that, after the release of the anger, sets a new mood to the album, like arriving at a point to be considered a safe place, a shelter in which taking a breath without the constraints of oppression. A simple melody loops upon the tone of a reversed guitar, delayed echoes make their way to a dark sky softly lit by embers. A moment of peace.
After having found shelter, there’s space for some tranquil thinking. B. reflects upon her sexuality, the way she feels her body, her soul respect to her body, the desire to have lived a more peaceful life. There’s a solution for all these thoughts and it’s the contact of another human soul, another human body who accepts her body the way it is. Bass, piano and plain hip hop drums create the atmosphere for the catchiest of the songs in Deviancy.
Burn Me at the Stake is the most “classic” song and the one that puts an end to the record. What it’s actually a rock song with rap in it, fuzz guitar playing scalar blues, an organ in the background and plain drumming, it’s the last declaration of war against the prejudice the laws of the elders upon which B. points the middle finger rather than surrender. The album expires with the solo organ continuing its progression of chords until the end.
Backxwash and her Deviancy are the exceptions in a macho rap world made out of stereotypes around the topics of pride, family, money, drugs and twerking ladies. She tells a story of fighting to survive in a background of traditionalism that makes the evil strong even today. Hail to her boldness.
Written for you by Music Pills
Previous rap review: Milo – Budding Ornithologists Are Weary of Tired Analogies
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