Moor Mother's new collaboration with fellow Philadelphia producer Mental Jewelry, and follows her immense 2016 debut, Fetish Bones, which sent a rolling shockwave through both the experimental hip-hop world and the mainstream music press. It also utterly captivated me, Noisey's metal nerd in chief; it's rare that I'm so drawn to a hip-hop-based project, but I suppose that speaks to the inherent darkness of Moor Mother's music—a jagged, artful melange of noise, industrial, hip-hop, power electronics, protest music, afrofuturism, witchery, feminism, revolution, and freedom.
The six-track EP is due out June 16 on Don Giovanni, and takes a hard left away from the abrasive, destructive Afrofuturist noise tapestries we've come to expect from Moor Mother's Camae Ayewa. Instead, Moor Mother x Mental Jewelry is deceptively low-key, its beats drifting slowly through the ether, synths sleepy and minimal, as Ayewa's deep, knowing voice coils through the smoke like a wise serpent, spitting wisdom and venom in one low breath. She speaks of racism, death, and systematic violence, backing up her words via laptop using modern broken beat/sample based techniques and live instrumentation. Her trademark pounding, whip-snap crackly beats do surface on tracks like "Matter of Time," which sees her voice harden to steel and rhymes grow fangs, offering a nice counterbalance to the woozy, bad dream vibes on "Death Booming" or "Streets Dept."
"Two of these tracks—"Hardware" and "Death Booming"—were meant for Fetish Bones, but I couldn't get them to sound how I wanted," Ayewa states. "I really loved Mental Jewelry's production, though, so I suggested that we make and EP. We had bonded over free jazz, drum and bass, and heavy dub—we just spent hours talking about music before we even recorded a track."
Listen below, and preorder the record from Don Giovanni here.
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Photo by Bob Sweeney?.