Ashanti Mutinta knows how it feels to be an outsider. A trans, trap-metal rapper born in Zambia but based in Montreal since the age of 17, her story is almost as unique as her music. On this, her third release as Backxwash, she has crafted a sound that blends her loves of hip hop, industrial and metal in a way that sounds unlike anything else you’ll hear this year.
From the opening seconds of the album’s title track, it’s clear that tearing genre conventions to shreds is forefront on Backxwash’s agenda. It samples the song that first brought us heavy metal as we know it – Black Sabbath – but leaves it nefariously inverted as she spits furious bars over a menacing, funereal stomp. ‘Cross my heart and hope to die/I wish blood on my enemies,’ she seethes; there’s bitterness, vitriol but also sadness sewn into the soul of this record, the sound of a young woman processing her lived experience as she comes to terms with her own identity.
It’s a blueprint that the rest of God Has Nothing… follows, taking recognisable elements – a sniff of Deftones here, a smattering of Nick Cave there, a glimpse of Zeppelin elsewhere – and mutating them into a dark, suffocating soundtrack to Mutinta’s life. Black Magic is righteous, fire-and-brimstone industrial rap, while Spells sounds like Trent Reznor collaborated with experimental hip hop crew, Clipping. Into The Void is a ferocious, nerve-jangling jolt of psychotic noise, brimming with tension and paranoia: ‘I’m looking over shoulders as I’m passing through the deli/Maybe it’s my skin or maybe it’s the way I dress,’ she snarls over a gruelling, mechanical thud. The whole thing is barely more than 20 minutes long, and yet it’s packing more ideas than many bands manage in an entire career. And it’s fucking brilliant.