Whether you're a fan of high energy hip-hop, raw punk-esque guitars or soulful R&B, there is something on the album for you
Sofie Lindevall
16:29 4th March 2021

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Genre-breaking Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist Genesis Owusu has a lot to say and we are here to listen. Having dropped numerous singles since the release of his 2017 debut EP Cardive, the rapper/singer is finally back, this time with his first full-length album – Smiling With No Teeth. A collection of intimately personal reflections on the experience being a Black man in a predominantly white society and the ups and downs of mental health struggles, the album is a brilliant debut paving the way for what looks to be an even more brilliant future. 

The album’s introductory track ‘On The Move!’ hits like a blast and instantaneously turns the energy levels up to as high as they go. The energy is to be expected following the last two single releases dropping ahead of the album – ‘The Other Black Dog’ and ‘Gold Chains’. Both stand out as some of the album’s higher points and see Owusu showcase his skills as a rapper as well as a singer. There are hints and nods to the likes of JPEGMAFIA and Channel Tres, yet Owusu maintains an air of confidently defined uniqueness from start to finish. Even when he shows us a softer and more intimate side during songs like ‘Centrefold’ and ‘Waitin On Ya’, Owusu blends soulfulness and vulnerability assuredly. 

About the album, Genesis Owusu himself says:

"Smiling With No Teeth is performing what the world wants to see, even if you don't have the capacity to do so honestly. Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people who only want to know if you're okay if the answer is yes. That's the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music."

Throughout the album, Owusu refuses to be put into a category. He jumps from one musical style to the next, throwing any labels or genres out the window as he goes. There is an aura of ease and liberation that naturally comes with it, leaving Owusu free to express himself in whatever way he deems suitable. While lyrically the album examines dense topics, musically it never loses its luminosity. 

With a 15 title-deep track list, the album does feel like it is slightly longer than it has to be. It is an eclectic collection of songs, with elements striving in several different directions - at times simultaneously. However, in an ever increasingly genre-less world, we are perhaps less concerned with albums being linear and cohesive, prioritising the good individual songs. Smiling With No Teeth has plenty of not only good, but great, songs and whether you are a fan of high energy hip-hop, raw punk-esque guitars or soulful R&B, there is something on the album for you.

Smiling With No Teeth arrives 5 March.

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Photo: Press