Album of the Day: Backxwash, “Deviancy”

With her complex rhyme patterns and hard delivery Backxwash, a transfeminine rapper from Montreal (by way of Zambia), is a force of nature. On her new record, Deviancy, Backxwash makes it clear that the high-energy witchcraft of the gritty first single “Devil in a Moshpit” wasn’t a fluke. Deviancy is Backxwash at her most occult—“Don’t come to the woods,” she warns, a rumbling bassline snaking around distorted choral samples and disorienting vocal stabs. Lyrically “dresssed in layers of leather,” Backxwash stakes her claim as the “Baphomet of this fag shit… back in this confused Nazareth.”

If that all sounds evil, then you’re probably her intended target: bigots, patriarchs, and conservatives are given no quarter here. It’s not so much the crooked hand of the devil that guides her, though—more like righteous vengeance and revolutionary ire. On “Bad Juju,” she ad-libs over drums so heavy they seem to be designed to ruin a club’s soundsystem: “Fuck everybody, fuck patriarchy, fuck evil standards of beauty we’re supposed to live in, fuck society.” Deviancy, though, for all its dark turns, is ultimately a record that finds beauty and magic, value and power, in the chaos of marginalized lived experiences. “You Like My Body The Way It Is” is a sweet and honest track about feeling valued by a partner, while “Burn Me at the Stake” is ultimately an ode to persistence through the most difficult of times. These are hexes to believe in.

-Alex Smith

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