The Vancouver-born musician Tommy Genesis has made a habit out of being hard to pin down. First emerging as part of the neon-bathed Atlantans in Awful Records, it was easy at first to view her as a rapper, but over the years she’s made it clear that she exists more at the borders between styles, sounds, and scenes. She seems just as comfortable in club music contexts – I first saw her give a show-stopping performance at a particularly sweaty rendition of New York’s long-running (but still forward-thinking) party GHE20G0TH1K – as she is offering tight verses on rap tracks that shout out glimmering genital piercings.
As you get comfortable slotting her into an easy archetype, she seems to reject it. Over the course of the last couple of years, she’s rejected the idea that she’s a rapper altogether and shut down press that ask her to elucidate the sexual energy that’s behind some of her most famous songs. “The older I become the more I open my heart to a different kind of energy,” she wrote, plainly, in an essay for i-D last year.
Her most recent single “Tommy” was a spoke-sung testament to her singularity (“Nobody fuck with Tommy / Nobody's high like Tommy / Nobody rock like Tommy”), but her new single “Lucky,” streaming, is just about as hard a left turn as she’s taken at any point in her young career. She’s often favoured murky, foreboding production in the past, but “Lucky” is a clear-eyed sunburst, riffing on reggae tropes with her wonderfully genre-agnostic approach to postmodern pop music. Genesis floats effortlessly and slyly over the colourful waves of 808-accented upbeats, proffering both serious meditations on her good fortune and more playful moments, the most memorable of which finds her crooning “Look at my face, the only thing more pretty is my pussy.”
The track’s set to appear on Genesis’ forthcoming album, simply called Genesis, and by the way she describes it via email, it sounds like she might keep making left turns. “Every song on the album is a different genre,” she says. “This is my No Doubt album. There's no rules. I just made what I wanted.” It came together over the past year, mostly with producers Charlie Heat and Jeff Gitelman after she says she “threw out” another record’s worth of material. She says the resulting product is more honest, more open, and more her. The dipping and diving between sounds and styles allowed her to craft a record that was a “self-reflection,” something that allows her to dig into “everything you don't know about me.” As to what that exactly entails, she’s a bit reserved, describing herself as a “pretty private person.”
“There's nothing I haven't said about myself that I want people to know,” she says. “If you want to get to know me I'd say you'll learn more from listening to my lyrics than reading my interviews. But I guess if I have to think of something to say I'd say, I'm really just a big ol' softy. Don't be afraid to come say hi or talk to me about anything: puppies, art, conspiracy theories, puppies.”
If “Lucky,” or frankly any of the other music she’s released to date, is anything to go on Genesis is one to look out for – few perspectives in music make room for as many possibilities. It seems built into the way she works, which she describes as a constantly unfolding soundtrack of her own moods. “I've grown to lean on it like a crutch when shit happens in my life, she says. “I picture it playing above me day to day – I'll make a song when i'm in a mood then replay it until the mood shifts. It's sort of like a self sufficient, continuous therapy session.” With any luck, it could fill a similar role for you too. But if not, at least there’s moments like lucky, a burst of pure joy, which you need, right now.
Colin Joyce is an editor for Noisey and is on Twitter.