Interesting to note that the peculiar fusion of righteous soul and contorted hip hop beats that is Seattle-based duo THEESatisfaction cite two people by the surname of Butler as major influences. There’s the music of one Ishmael Butler (aka Palaceer Lazaro) of friends, collaborators and Sub Pop label mates Shabazz Palaces and then the ideas of science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler. The latter namesake was responsible for some award-winning novels concerning racial and sexual ambiguity, as well as social class and language before her sudden death in 2006.
DIY in the real sense, the duo’s bandcamp page features music self-produced and uploaded since starting work together in 2007. Rife with references to black history and signifiers of that emerging literary movement known as Afrofuturism, with which both Butler’s are associated, releases like Astronomical Warfare, Why We Celebrate Colonialism and Sista Ya Been on My Mind (as Neon Warwick) express concerns with the African diaspora and an aesthetic throwback to the African-American activism of the 60s US.
That social preoccupation continues with THEEsatisfaction’s debut album awE naturalE, out March 25, where the jerky vocal pitch-shifts and off beat drum beat of lead single ‘Enchantruss’ provide an ethereal foundation for their urban poetry and politically loaded verse like, “I took a course in white/ I had to force to bite”. Although, in referring to the adroit scat of songs like the titillatingly cadenced rhythms of ‘Bitch’ or the dazed piano fragments of ‘Crash’ as ‘urban’, one implies that the music of THEEsatisfaction is very much grounded by a sense of place. Yet, like their Afrofuturistic predecessors of Sun Ra and George Clinton (Funkadelic, Parliament), as well as contemporaries Shabazz Palaces, Irons and White are more concerned with overcoming and transcendence. Album opener ‘awE’ is a fifty-second adventure through a blast of bass and fragmented vocal sampling, while the closer, ‘NaturalE’, features an a-melodic synth-line resembling a magnified signal of the ever-disembodying mode of an Internet connection.
Self-identifying as ‘rebel lo-fi hip hop’ THEEsatisfaction, take the implications of racial dominance by Western invention and use it for their own subversive means toward pride and liberation. That’s why a pan-continental dialogue can exist citing the likes of British scholar and Goldsmiths lecturer Kodwo Eshun and North American Octavia E Butler, or a budding hip hop scene from Seattle can reach the ears of the world, while referencing British reggae and dancehall inspired rap duo, Wee Papa Girl Rappers.
In being only the second hip hop signing to the iconic Sub Pop label, better know for identifying and propagating the city’s grunge movement-gone-global in the 90s, THEEsatisfaction might very well be responsible for exploding this next major movement in music from the margins and they’ll have at least two people by the name of Butler to thank for it.