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Album reviews
Artist:
Backxwash
Album:
God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out of It
Release year:
2020
Label:
Self-released
28 May 2020 / by Alex Ramsay (author)

Genres: Experimental Hip Hop, Horrorcore, 

 

On the opening track of God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It, Backxwash samples Ozzy Osbourne’s pained howls from the song that would ultimately give Black Sabbath their name. Osbourne’s cries are soon joined by a chorus of unintelligible whispers and a sickly beat, all coalescing into a bizarre, horrorcore introduction to the Montreal-based musician’s particular brand of hip-hop. While the convergence of horror and hip-hop has been explored by a plethora of artists, it’s less common for these artists to actually make music that sounds genuinely frightening. That’s where Backxwash comes in. 

From the above mentioned sample of Black Sabbath, to her use of “In Heaven” from David Lynch’s nightmarish horror film Eraserhead and even the album’s cover art which features a sketched out sigil that wouldn’t look out of place in the Blair Witch Project, horror is all over God Has Nothing to Do with This… For all of the grit and darkness however, Backxwash herself (also known as Ashanti Mutinta) has said on her Bandcamp that the album is “about my version of forgiveness and things that I need to face in order to reach my version of that”. Amidst the horror and darkness, catharsis and vulnerability is at the core of Backwash’s music. 

Over the hard hitting drums (sampled from Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levees Break’) on ‘Adolescence’, Muntinta admits: “Maybe I should go to therapy/ ‘cause keeping it inside is something that is eating me alive.” Throughout the project, Mutinta grapples with vital themes of queerness, religion and blackness while still anchoring these weighty ideas in the personal. 

“I’m paranoid that everybody's out to try and get me/I’m looking over shoulders as I’m passin’ through the deli/maybe it’s my skin or maybe it’s the way I dress,” she shouts on ‘Into the Void’. 

Meanwhile, the album culminates with ‘Redemption’, a shockingly laid back closer which samples a sermon from bishop T.D Jakes: “When we don’t forgive, we pay a toll in our bodies,” he says over the song’s final moments. 

As intimate as Backxwash can get however, by no means does that mean she’s lost her ability to write - for lack of a better word - bangers. Every beat drop on “Black Magic’ sounds like Mutinta dropped Thor’s hammer while recording and ‘Spells’ has the sort of woozy noise rap beat that would sound at home on a JPEGMAFIA mixtape (coincidentally, each of these tracks feature a member of Toronto noise duo Black Dresses). 

If God Has Nothing Do With This... has any weaknesses, it’s that few of the tracks quite reach the heights of something like ‘Bad Juju’ from Backxwash’s previous album Deviancy or the titular song from 2018’s Black Sailor Moon. Instead, a consistency that those projects lacked is found here, with all 23 minutes feeling like an absolute necessity as Mutinta seeks clarity amidst the abrasive clangor of the music. 

This feels like a major entry in Backxwash’s discography and a honing of the sort of idiosyncratic punk rap that she has slowly mastered over the past few years. 

 

Rating: 8/10

 

The author

Alex Ramsay

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