Home Music Backxwash: I Lie Here Buried with My Rings and My Dresses

Backxwash: I Lie Here Buried with My Rings and My Dresses

In 2020, Ashanti Mutinta made creative strides under the Backxwash moniker with God Has Nothing to Do with This, Leave Him Out of It. After years of dabbling with different styles of rapping and production on a handful of admirable EPs, the Zambian-Canadian rapper finally found her voice, speaking in tongues accompanied by crackling hellfire. Just over a year later, she has taken on her largest project to date, I Lie Here Buried with My Rings and My Dresses. Considering how in-her-element she sounded on her last album, it’s unsurprising that Backxwash would attempt to expand this sound to a wider scope. While she excels at drawing the listener in with her harrowing songwriting and demonically inspired delivery, she struggles to wrangle her ideas into anything as inventively satisfying as God Has Nothing to Do with This.

I Lie Here Buried is brazen. From her delivery to her production, Mutinta suffocates the listener. Lyrically, Backxwash is diving even deeper into her journey as a trans woman, expressing a deep sense of isolation and festering bitterness towards a world that refuses to accept her, whether it be for her gender, race or otherwise. She doesn’t mince her words; Backxwash is sick of the rejection, and at this point it sounds like she is on the verge of breaking off from society entirely. Her presence is easily the strongest aspect here.

The problems begin with the production, although it’s not without highlights. The entrancing second half of “In Thy Holy Name” sounds eerily like possession, and “Blood in the Water” features driving and lowkey production from Jonathan Snipes and William Snipes of clipping. fame as Backxwash channels her inner Daveed Diggs. Unfortunately, she implements a foundation of pounding percussion and occult instrumentals for so much of the album that one grows numb to the aggression. On their own, these beats are good, but with so many of them, they get repetitive. This is not helped by Backxwash’s raspy and howling vocals, which inject a unique sense of character but would be better served by more diverse beats.

The album also suffers from spacing issues, with the title track and “Terror Packets” as prime suspects. On an album that barely breaks the half hour mark, it is odd that two five-minute songs are placed one after the other, creating a massive chunk of music within a relatively scant runtime. While “Terror Packets” justifies its length with the best writing on the whole album, Ada Rook’s feature on the title track is a multi-phased chorus that’s twice as long as it should be. It becomes concerning when there is fat to be trimmed on what is already such a lean track list, but such instances are difficult to ignore.

I Lie Here Buried is not a failure, but it is a disappointment following one of the most promising hip-hop projects of the past few years. What started as the logical next step in her witchcraft-inspired rap project slips up with few new ideas that run dry. Mutinta’s writing is strong as always, and the aesthetics serve her concept well, but she needs to spend more time at the drawing board to recapture the black magic conjured on God Has Nothing to Do with This. Backxwash is by no means washed up, but this is a minor misstep in an otherwise solid discography.

Summary
Ashanti Mutinta’s writing is strong as always, and the aesthetics serve her concept well, but Backxwash needs to spend some more time at the drawing board to recapture the black magic conjured on God Has Nothing to Do with This.
58 %
Heavy, but thin
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