Artists of the week: THEESatisfaction
THEESatisfaction is an American R&B and hip-hop duo based in Seattle consisting of rapper Stasia “Stas” Irons and singer Catherine “Cat” Harris-White. Together they have been developing a highly stimulating and innovative blend of Afro-futurist rap, dense neo-soul, jazz, R&B and pop with an acute political message. Their career is deeply entwined with the one of their soul-mates and label partners Shabazz Palaces: not only have they sang and rapped in each other records, but both duos share the same minimal and experimental approach to unconventional song structures and a deep focus on sonic flow and texture. This close and symbiotic artistic partnership has arguably produced some the most interesting output of the contemporary music scene in Seattle.
After self-releasing a handful of Eps and mixtapes that, from inception, not only assumed their influences but also affirmed their rightful place among elder contemporaries such as Erykah Badu, Anita Baker, Ronnie Laws, Digable Planets and Sun-Ra, the duo signed to Sub Pop after the label heard their seductive, warm but also poignant participation on a couple of tracks of 2011’s Shabazz Palaces‘ breakthrough Black Up. Their debut, awE naturalE, was released the following year with critical acclaim and rightfully so: underneath oblique political messages about gender exploration, race and sexual prejudice, pulsed an intricate, versatile and hypnotic mixture of tribal percussions, beats, R&B and disco-funk that seemed to prioritize good vibe-seeking above all.
EarthEE, their new and highly anticipated sophomore record, keeps exploring all the superlative qualities of their debut (political without being preachy, experimental but not hermetic, challenging though highly enjoyable), but manages somehow to be even more sonically rich and detailed. This is one of the most indisputable musical triumph of black womanhood of recent years and definitely a strong contender for best record of what has already been a thrilling 2015.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.