Throughout history the similarities between punk and hip-hop music have been there for all to see. Both genres have been used as platforms to talk about issues such as gender, equality, politics and so much more in a raw and aggressive manner, albeit painted with a different brush. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that there has been crossover in these genres over the years. Most recently Canada-based rapper Backxwash, born and raised in Zambia, has benefited from incorporating punk into her music.
In her latest album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It, the rapper takes a deep dive into the personal struggles that she faces whilst giving a fresh voice to the challenges of blackness and queerness. The arresting combination of gritty, bass-heavy beats and powerful vocals makes what Backxwash has to say worth sitting up and paying attention to.
The opening title-track acts as a tone setter for the rest of the record, with the first sound we hear being a looped Ozzy Osbourne desperately screaming “oh no no please god help me”. The sample is here repurposed to signify Backxwash’s relationship with religion, a theme which continues to run throughout the record with songs like ‘Amen’, ‘Into The Void’ and the two ambient interludes, dubbed ‘Hell’s Interlude’ and ‘Heaven’s Interlude’.
Not only does Backxwash have an incredibly smooth flow to her lyrics, often putting an emphasis on issues which she clearly battles with, but she is able to adapt sonically and mix up her style. There is seemingly no formula to how these songs are created, and you can tell that the lyrics, delivered with passion and zeal, come from the heart. Tracks like ‘Redemption’ and the aforementioned ‘Amen’ showcase this mixture of styles, with the latter track being arguably the most aggressive on the record, whilst the former acts as an open letter to the intolerant people in both the artist’s life and in society at large.
Hip-hop has always held a strong political voice, and Backxwash utilises this facet of the genre, putting her own spin on it in the process. As a result, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It is the kind of uniquely powerful record that leaves you with the sense that the artist is cathartically laying everything bare for all to see.
God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It is out May 30th on Grimalkin Records, with a physical version due later this year. Proceeds from digital only sales at this time will go to Grimalkin’s artist and mutual aid collective fund. Once they release the deluxe version in the summer or fall, proceeds from tapes and digital will go towards a friend’s transitioning costs. Order here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck