Published Jun 10, 2020After making waves as Spank Rock, American rapper and songwriter Naeem Juwan sheds his previous moniker and joins forces with some of the United States' most ingenious artists for Startisha. Working as part of the 37d03d collective (founded by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon), Startisha is the product of a half-decade of soul searching, and it marks a striking project, and an impressive way for Naeem to step out under his own name.
It was important for Naeem to have a creative process that allowed for freedom and new ideas. Producers Sam Green and Grace Goods deftly match Naeem's hip-hop dexterity with elegant, cultivated instrumental sounds, all with minimal guidance from the artist himself, along with contributions from the likes of Francis and the Lights, Ryan Olson (GAYNGS, Poliça) and Velvet Negroni.
Startisha kicks off with a musical ode to self-care with a cover of Silver Apples' "You and I." Originally recorded by the American electronic rock group in 1969, lyrics like "You and I could love each other / but we don't have time for the little things" serve as a reminder of how one can get swept up in today's fraught society. Single "Simulation" features production and vocal contributions from Swamp Dogg and Vernon himself, embodying survival while showcasing a creative resistance to art and culture. Regular collaborators Amanda Blank and Micah James join Naeem on "Woo Woo Woo", an organically assembled number that flits between electronic and hip-hop.
Through Startisha, Naeem allows us into his personal place full of emotional intelligence by creating an album that captures where he stands in his personal and professional lives. The album's ability to blend genres results in an unique and alluring archive of sound — a strong coming-out party for the Baltimore native. (37d03d)