On Big Dada
From the UK via Liberia, Nigeria and Scotland, Young Fathers have pursued a unique trajectory, from mid-teen hip hop trio via psych-pop rap to where they are now, on their own original island thrown up by a pop volcano, tectonic plates of genres rubbing up against each other like under-sea dirty party-people; seams of molten pop history spewing lava more fertile than guano, upon which the rich foliage of hook, rhythm and bass grow immodestly in the sun.
Along the way, they have dropped pearls: Straight Back On It, from their unreleased debut album Inconceivable Child... Conceived, is the telescoping of Tommy Boy into the 21st century. Featured performances with Simian Mobile Disco and Stanton Warriors gave glimpses of the kind of light bulb shattering energy they are capable of. Several tours, many festivals, honing a live presence which often looked like the vision of a boy band through the bottom of a glass of crystal meth.
Finally, having left their original production company and moved out on their own, Young Fathers dropped their first mixtape/mini album at the end of 2011. TAPE ONE showed them in a darker place, a natural pop progression, the kind documented in the David Essex films, That'll Be The Day and Stardust, reaching shamanistic levels of call, response, lyrical invocations. Wildly urban.
Signing to American west coast pulse-finder label, Anticon in 2012 they released TAPE TWO, even dirtier and louder than TAPE ONE (of course!) but also its natural side two. With tracks like Queen Is Dead (which had the honour of being temporarily 'banned by the BBC' - literally, 'in case the Queen of Britain died') tapping into a Swazi initiation ceremony cut up by Gyson's scissors, to I Heard, full of that sweet, soul pain, holding hands with Curtis and Marvin over a dystopic beatbox.
2013 saw them venture to America, a natural target, where they mystified and blew away jaded SXSW regulars, then more tours around Europe and the UK, each time touching a few more innocents, passing through Reading and Leeds and creating thunder at the In The Woods festival.
Here they are then, alternating spells in the basement creating with alchemy massive bass on sheets of flash and mantronik steel, forged in an African fire, their new full length album entitled DEAD, due out on Anticon and Big Dada in the new year.
Loquacious Alloysious Massaquoi, lithe and graceful on stage, can take it from down and dirty to beatified choir boy in a musical phrase; growling and whispering 'G', gazing into the spotlight, transfixed by his own rhythms, pleading with the crowd to just, get it; exploding Kayus, whose overproof rapping can rip holes in walls without a microphone, hinting at dark deeds known and done, Ole Dirty Bastard's bastard son.
A stream of self-conceived and directed videos, a tie-in with Ch4 and Lemonade Money for the short films broadcast in 2013 featuring them and their music, hosting a friday night tombstone slot through October on BBC R1xtra, curating a monthly night in Glasgow at Broadcast (Back Off Devil), this plus upcoming tours of France, where TAPE TWO has been greeted with the classic Gallic understanding of all things dark-rocknroll (where Jim Morrison is apparently buried), touring the UK and the rest of Europe in the new year, all means that Young Fathers will hardly have time to think, let alone roam the gothic streets of old Edinburgh, hanging with friends.
They are committed, on course, irrefutably aligned with the stars, set to sail the globe like a ghost ship, bringing dread and joy to safe harbours and dangerous docks. Traveling with sails tattered and billowing from a mistral, channeled from the west coast of Africa to the east and the north of Britain, unfettered and multinational. Without passports.