Kanye goes gospel - but is he just cashing in on the Christian dollar? The Song Crush team, Kirsten, Yadana and Tony, this week contemplate Kanye's intentions. Plus a woozy missive from Frank Ocean, a powerful message from Onehunga's SWIDT, and more.
Kanye West - Selah
Kanye told Zane Lowe recently that he was "unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest artist of all time". Judging from his latest 27 minute celebration of his Christian faith we're not convinced. Sonically there are beautiful moments, mostly from the gospel choirs, but the rhymes feel one-dimensional and under-cooked. Lazy, even. His proselytising prose has the grace of a snake-oil salesman.
When he raps "The IRS want they fifty plus our tithe / Man, that's over half of the pie / I felt dry, that's on God" it's worth noting that by making his company a Church, he would evade all income tax. Either way, the Christian music market is a lucrative one, and why wouldn't Ye grab some of that tithe. KJ + YS
Frank Ocean - DHL
Patron rap saint of the hipsters, Frank Ocean returns with a woozy, edgeless, atmospheric song. It's been two years since Ocean released any new material after the success of his 2012 debut studio album channel ORANGE and 2016 follow up Blond.
The title 'DHL' indeed refers to the logistics company, and may hint at the urban slang term for how today's recreational pill poppers acquire their supply.
'DHL' sounds exactly as though he's lost in the haze of his own thoughts and then some. Definitely one for the Frank Ocean faithful.
Caribou - Home
Dan Snaith returns with his first new music under the Caribou moniker since 2014 (there have been releases under his other alias Daphni). It’s a masterclass in the art of sampling: Snaith deploys a chunk of Gloria Banes’ 1971 track of the same name, giving him a chance to duet with her over a fifty year divide: when he sings ‘she’s coming home’, Gloria replies to him from fifty years in the past: ‘baby, I’m home’.
It’s surprisingly affecting; a bittersweet grace note to an otherwise bouncy, feelgood tune. TS
Låpsley - My Love Was Like the Rain
Låpsley is a 23 year old English electronic producer and songwriter who might appeal to fans of James Blake, The XX, any of the indie-scandi-pop singers.
When she was 15/16 she’d sneak out to warehouse raves in Liverpool, and that dance music structure seeps into her sound - particularly on this new song which comes with a couple of quasi-drum-n-bass drops.
The spacious production, an increasingly insistent synth line, the twinkles and the melody line make this an addictive song with a message of owning your personality quirks. KJ
SWIDT - Bunga
The Onehunga hip hop collective continue to evolve and mature in this hard-hitting 'visual song'. 'Bunga' is not available on streaming platforms as SWIDT want the audience to watch the video directed by Anahera Parata.
From the song's name to the unrelenting bars through it's two minute run time, 'Bunga' is a confronting and thought provoking polemic on the racial and political discrimination New Zealand's Pasifika community have suffered and continue to this day.
We're a long way from riding the 312 to parties in Stoneyhunga. Be prepared to be challenged.YS
Teebs - Prayers ii
Teebs (real name Mtendere Mandowa) is a producer who specialises in big slabs of soothing sound. Not overly concerned with melody, he instead focuses on clustered harmonies and interesting textures to tickle the ears: listen closely to this one and you’ll hear reversed guitar, coins jangling, sticks clattering, and eventually birdsong.
The result feels spiritual and profoundly chill: highly recommended if you enjoy being enveloped in aural ear candy. TS