In a recent cover story, Grimes unveiled a new and exciting collaboration on a track called SCREAM for her fourth upcoming album. The collaborator is none other than Aristophanes – also known as 貍貓 – a Taiwanese rapper who has been an integral wordsmith on Taipei’s hip hop scene for a while now. Unfortunately, I do not speak nor understand Mandarin Chinese, but my friends who do, exclaim that her vocal slicks and flips are effortless and clean. I can hear it too though, the range and rhythm of her wordplay is an otherworldly thing to experience (especially for an English speaker). The production is always surprising. It varies from stuck-in-a-gramophone jazz to glitch pop experimentalism to relaxed lounge-hop. In some of the songs she whispers in an almost clandestine, lets-take-down-the-government fashion, and then suddenly groans as if in pain. In others, she is barely heard as her nimble voice slides amongst an industrial-noise soundscape.
She interprets Chinese folktales into syncopated word-rhythms, references Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (which is my favourite book), and navigates the violent intersections of democracy and capitalism. She even has a song about an imagined meeting between Chinese philosopher Laozi and German philosopher Nietzsche (Don’t even. I’ve already mailed my soul to her). Basically, her lyrical content is so marvellously on point that we might as well call her a rapping revolutionary, or, perhaps, a prating prophetess.
So make sure that you give this gal a listen.