Brian Josephs prays to the Shmurda Hat. It’s his guardian angel.
Here’s the thing about a lot of Afrofuturists: They don’t necessarily like the term. That’s partly because it simplifies the varying beliefs the artists under the label represent. Also, “labels”: Many Black artists have been paranoid of those. The term itself is a bit of an oxymoron, too. An Afrofuturistic ideal says the future of African-Americans lies outside the stratosphere. The “Afro” is a very earthy term, though; Sun Ra is reportedly (sources: him) from Saturn.
THEESatisfaction, who appeared on labelmates (in philosophy and on Sub Pop) Shabazz Palaces’ highlight “Swerve… the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding),” is a duo who’s been categorized as such. Their 2012 debut awE NaturalE is a tight, 30-minute package traditional enough to appeal to the jazz classicist and vocals light and free-flowing enough to transform the work into a sensory journey. and that’s your time EP, released in 2013, is even tighter, but more expansive. It’s also more claustrophobic, as if it’s frantically rejecting the labels and general fuckery surrounding it: Stereotypes and Don Lemon’s dumbass Five Things bit (“Five Things: Uncle Tom Foolery”).SassyBlack’s OTHERS Pt. 1 — labeled #trippytip, #Space Jam, #Stoner Tunes — slips further away from definable grasps.
If Shabazz Palaces’ defense against various forms of trivialization is dapping up Dr. Manhattan during his outer space exile, SassyBlack’s seems to be abandoning physical form all together. Look at the cover, where she’s an agitated floating head staring at the listener. OTHERS Pt. 1 is a druggy and continuous 17 minutes that noticeably lies in the stratosphere within reach of musical touchtones, even though the samples aren’t immediately recognizable to some. Ghastly effects swirl behind the neon-lit, two-stepping funk that shares There’s A Riot Going On‘s disillusionment — not in genre, but in vibe. Amerie’s slept-on “Nothing Like Loving You” repeatedly finds its way here amidst ’90s R&B-style harmonies.
It’s all recognizable enough to inspire immediate reaction, but spacious enough to warrant deeper attention. Also, with its generally hazy texture and loose, entrancing format, OTHERS Pt. 1 uses its influences to exist in a space hovering outside clear memory but in intersection with human melancholy. You’ve probably felt it. That deeply personal past moment — whether life-changing or sublime — that’s given further weight by a soundtrack that slips in to perfectly capture the moment. Even if you’re fortunate enough to remember the song, that experience isn’t rendered clearly in memory. Because it’s of the moment. OTHERS Pt. 1 looks upon that nostalgia with a similar cloudy lens. Of course, you can’t wipe them off either; the only thing to do is boogie.