“I am an American nightmare/Black with a degree and a couple of ideas/Not your average stat,” pronounces guest vocalist Aloe Blacc, on a track that calls for compassionate capitalism, denounces dirty politicians, lobbyists and the henchmen of global corporations as well as name checking Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra. Safe to say, this guest rapper’s daily grind has little in common with the unedifying ego unleashing of many modern hip hop stars. The title track on the debut EP for Brighton’s Tru Thoughts label by Melbourne-based producer Dave Norris, aka Dizz1, Everyday Grind creeps along at a wobbly tempo, distorted and reverb-heavy, reminiscent of Clams Casino’s sinister dreamscapes, but with bright, organic drums (presumably his own; Norris is also an accomplished drummer).
Rhythmically then, it’s no picnic, but Aloe Blacc more than is up to the task. “This could be my manifesto” he considers, but this is no overly earnest delivery system for self-conscious politicalising; Blacc is too self-aware for that, wryly lampooning himself as the author of “lyrics for your mum”. A reference perhaps to I Need A Dollar, the Californian’s big crossover single from 2011. He is, remember, the owner of a bewitching Bill Withers-like tenor and a lauded songwriter in his own right, as well as a socially conscious rapper, one tough enough to pair “social paradigm” with “slaughter all the swine” in an all-too-rare Marxist-leaning rhyme that concludes “Death to the salesman/Long live the farmer/If you don’t agree, invest in body armour”. Lyrics for your mum indeed.
A red vinyl 12-inch of the EP has the three vocal cuts: Everyday Grind, Real Bad Gyal, featuring Warrior Queen, and We Go Ridin’, featuring Om’Mas Keith (of Frank Ocean and Kanye West production fame), plus taut, fizzing sci-fi instrumental Mystify My Eye. The digital version has two more remixes, plus a cappella and instrumental versions of each track.
Everyday Grind is released by Tru Thoughts on February 17.
Here the title track here: