Do you have blinkers on? Is there a genre line that you’ll listen up to and never beyond? There’s no shame in it, most people do. It’s that tribal thing rubbing up against our effete modernity, the fear of the unknown hindering our ability to develop. Mods v. Rockers, Blur v. Oasis, East Coast v. West Coast, you get the point. The greatest strength of music is it’s primal pull over our identity and so you can forgive those made ignorant by it; just about. That said, I always believed in listening avidly and listening widely; give everything a chance, refine your personal taste and see through the rubbish. Don’t kowtow to labels and genres; after all one genre is pretty much the same as another, just with a slightly different genetic makeup. Admittedly by the time I had discovered Faith No More and began this intense musical journey in earnest, I had been exposed to Folk, Classical, Hindustani and 90’s Dance musics. I loved them all equally. There was never any contest between them because there was no need to be; in my head there is space for everything. It should therefore come as little surprise that I love hip hop. Music is music is music; if it’s good then I’ll fight it’s corner. I fight Mr Ekow’s corner willingly.
So what do I, a coddled rural Southerner borne out of the alternative rock/indie scene, look for in hip hop and rap? To be honest; exactly the same things I look for in everything else. Good pulse, good structure, good words. When Space Stares Back (obviously) has these in abundance, all built together in a sympathetic whole pushing you onwards through the scenery. So much scenery. The music alone conjures up a Björkien mix of safety and unease. It’s a feeling that weirdly reminds me of playing LoZ Majora’s Mask after binging on Ocarina of Time; the safety of the familiar melted through a distorted prism. Reality not quite functioning as you expect. It’s a similar liberation found moving between the shadows cast by the off-kilter dischord of When Space Stares Back. That said, with no words to accompany this music would be irrelevant; it is the words that hold it together. Here Mr Ekow excels in subtly altering the timbre and rhythm of his voice, a reassuringly assertive bedrock under the shifting sands.
He talks of the stars, physically and figuratively. Of becoming. Of succeeding. Of the nature of it all. It’s refreshing. For reals: ‘My aim’s not to be some sort of star / A supernova burnt out by my own heat, I’d rather go spark / Light in someone else who’s felt the coldness of the dark’. You rarely hear music used with such clear-eyed honesty. It rammed home how wrong Gene Simmons is (generally) when he bemoans the demise of rock music because we stopped lording it over everyone with our cash monies. He is a confused hack. Mr Ekow is the real thing. Success won’t come for everyone so we might as well enjoy the journey while we’re on it. Leave a paper trail. Cause an effect. These are things that can’t be measured by fame and it’s trappings, only good tunes. Narrow your musical vision and you will surely miss out. It’s so easy to miss out; this industry is saturated by hopefuls after success at any cost. We want to be Rihanna on our 777 terrorising the music press. Or Chris Martin with his utter blandness. I’ve felt for a long time that success comes in many forms and is more often than not humble and selfless. Listening to this song reinforces my position. I realise that “…maybe my greatest work won’t come from me spitting words” and I too “…just want to make a change and fit in this universe”. We have more in common than that which separates us. My blinkers lie wasting on the road. I am made free.
Ekow Chamber by Mr Ekow is available via Bandcamp. I strongly recommend getting it and supporting new talent.