Album of the Day: Psalm One, “FLIGHT OF THE WIG”

Back in the early 2000s, Psalm One pivoted from pursuing a career as a biochemist to paying dues on Chicago’s underground hip-hop scene, eventually signing to the Rhymesayers label after Eyedea caught wind of the dexterous MC’s music. Her latest release, FLIGHT OF THE WIG, is a thoroughly modern hip-hop outing that bristles with metallic rhythms and timely socio-political quips. Recorded in Minneapolis, where Psalm One relocated in search of creative change, the project’s beats are served up by a roster of producers including Optiks, who’s previously worked with Talib Kweli and Homeboy Sandman, and fellow Twin Cities representer Icetep. Collectively, they deliver bass-heavy backdrops that smartly veer towards the minimal, allowing Psalm One’s voice ample space.

On FLIGHT OF THE WIG, the rapper tackles identity politics—”I’m knowing some legends got penises / But I’m standing right here and I pee when I sit,” she raps on “WWIV”—and, on “Rock & Roll McDonaldz,” social media (“Ignorance is bliss and ain’t no fun being Twitter woke”). These big-picture takes contrast with nuanced tales of relationship woes. On “The Impossible Lover,” she laments a tryst that doesn’t allow her to be true to herself. Her rhymes flow in a swinging, scat-like fashion, as she declares: “I love you but I need to let it be / I gotta change, it’s really killing me.” FLIGHT OF THE WIG is a poignant, punchy hip-hop record, a sharp portrait of one of hip-hop’s most emotive and incisive voices.

-Philip Mlynar

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