I learned a good lesson about not judging an album purely based off its cover with Smiling with No Teeth, the debut album by Ghanaian-Australian singer Genesis Owusu. Initially I went into it thinking it was a straight hip hop album with Owusu sporting a grill-filled grin on the cover, but I was genuinely surprised to hear that he is closer to the electro-funk of Prince and the genre-less approach of contemporaries like Gorillaz and Yves Tumor. With Dave Hammer & Andrew Klippel handling a majority of the varied production, Owusu comes across very comfortable rapping or singing over tracks that range from r&b, soul, funk and new wave. The album starts off with a more upbeat sound and tone as he talks of relationships and identity, but once we get to the halfway point of the title track, things take a turn down a darker path that touch on themes of police abuse, racial tension and the tight grasp of depression. Smiling with No Teeth is an album with many layers to it that will undoubtably please upon the first listen, but the more you dive back into it, the more it will cast its spell until it ends up becomes your new favorite record.
Favorite Tracks: The Other Black Dog, Centrefold, Waitin’ On Ya, Don’t Need You, Gold Chains, Whip Cracker, A Song About Fishing, No Looking Back