ATTENZIONE, lovers of rhyme and lyricism transmitting in from the leftfield; come May 19th, POW Recordings will be presenting a new album from Los Angeles’ Rhys Langston, splicing oblique but conscious verbiage with the indie rock spirit of bands such as TV On The Radio, taking on the dominant power structures, throwing in Yiddish slang (Rhys is half-black, half-Jewish), fearlessly decrying where we’ve lurched to as a culture.
That new album, Stalin Bollywood, opens with the track “ho’s on my dick because he looks like a drawing of the prophet Muhammad”; and at little over a minute in, against a delirious double-time thrum of drums, he’s declared the need to stop abstracting and redistricting Black lives, thrice; set out his own artistic stall as being post-Verve (Records), and declares that the price of his features are about to go up a whole side of avocado toast. Ideas firing in from the leftfield leaving their vapour trails criss-crossing your mind. Remember how far Anticon – Doseone, Odd Nosdam et al – pushed the form?
In Rhys’s own words, from a interview from last year: “Why not just be weird as fuck, all the time?”
Why not indeed? Why not employ post-punk, new wave, shoegaze, and art rock to bed your flow? Why not mesh that production together on your laptop entirely, save for the judicious employ of a few string instruments? And why not drop a lead single, “a two state solution to soak eye contact”, containing the veiled critique: “Watch for the growing few who / Substitute the war flutes into Klezmer music / As instruments of foreign aid / Sustaining right to left Hebrew
to center what is Jewish / Let it not fall in line to be hubris,” focusing the crosshairs on Israeli political might with whispered soulful delivery, backwards masking, twanging guitars?
Discourse fracturing everywhere, granular, re-emerging; this is where we’re at as a species, and our art can only reflect that. Be careful of that to which your consent is implicit, as history is written around you.
Rhys Langston’s Stalin Hollywood will be released by POW Recordings on May 19th.