By Sunik Kim · June 29, 2021

On the full-length follow-up to her 2020 Polaris Award-winning album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It, Ashanti Mutinta drills down into sludgier, screamier territory, conjuring an explosive sound that simultaneously sprawls and marches to a militant choreography. There is a fundamental tension throughout I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES between Mutinta’s flexible flow and her screeching, harmonic-laden half-time beats: the latter’s dronier nature naturally attracts a more sustained vocal style, but Mutinta effectively rides the beat’s thrashing, metallic current, establishing precisely the kind of dynamic rhythmic interplay between vocal and instrumental that forms the core of the best rap.

That rhythmic tension carries a particular, directly personal and political weight here—a weight made explicit via Mutinta’s use of voice recordings as interludes, ranging from clips of Angela Davis speaking on violence to a preacher going on a homophobic tirade. While significant stretches of the album find Mutinta agile and fully in command—the raucous nu-metal title track being a perfect example—at other moments, it sounds as if Mutinta is struggling to stay afloat, on the verge of being swept away by the furious, relentless instrumentals. In Mutinta’s world, even interludes provide no solace or escape.

In the speech that Mutinta pulls from, Davis speaks of the two-fold nature of violence: First, the violence in “the way this society is organized…the violence that exists on the surface everywhere”; second, the “explosions” of struggle in response to that violence. Mutinta’s music undeniably captures this tension inherent in the concept of violence: it is at once a sonic reflection of this perpetual violence as well as the sound of “explosions” seeking to radically overturn the current state of things. While the album sounds like a doom trip on the surface, the arresting, feather-light sample that closes out “666 IN LUXAXA” argues otherwise; there are no simple conclusions on offer here, but there is undeniably hope.

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