With her new album “Pieces in Space,” released this past Friday, Oct. 28 on Don Giovanni Records, Sammus brings forth the best of the #BlackGirlMagic that we’ve all been basking in since the movement reached the forefront of pop culture. Even the title track asserts her power — “100 Percent” has the potential to be an anthem for empowered women everywhere, with lines like “Dante level 7, they get burned I try to tell them / so of course, they salty like a phosphate / horseplaying all day, forcing them to prostrate.”
Throughout the album, her ability to rhyme unusual phrases while keeping her statements powerful never wavers. The second song, “Comments Disabled,” is a highly necessary, beautifully crafted track discussing the trend of hateful anonymous comments, particularly against women, that has been plaguing the internet for too long. The track is more than a rant, though. It takes a conscious stance, recommending thoughtfulness instead of just shouting back into the void.
“Childhood” is, unsurprisingly, a beautiful trip into the realm of the nostalgic as Sammus name-drops Pokemon and Nickelodeon. It’s sentimental without being overly bitter about the present.
“Perfect, Dark” returns to the unapologetically prideful tone of the earlier songs, this time with more aggression. Sammus takes absolute ownership of her identity, shouting “I ain’t a n***** from Paris / I’m just a brown girl from upstate!” and “Black girls wanna have a hero, too!” It’s a declaration that will never wear old; a self-confidence that tastes sweet and deserved from the lips of a black woman who is so often underappreciated, underrated and underestimated. Her emotion grows into the biggest, loudest shouts heard yet and ends with an a cappella repetition of the refrain.
“Weirdo,” with a featured verse by Homeboy Sandman, is another perfect assertion, with Homeboy’s verse adding to the song without taking away from its original stance as features too often do. It’s again a statement of pride in both black culture and themselves, but Sammus brings a fresh, unrelenting look at it each time she revisits the topic.
Every phrase in “Song About Sex” is ice-cold in its clarity and force; it’s the best protest song, song of support for women and song of condemnation for the shaming of the female sexuality that has been written. It’s half slam-poetry piece, half rap (if the two can be so clearly separated).
“Nighttime,” a collaboration with rock band Izzy True, brings in another all-too-relevant topic of discussion by addressing mental health. It’s a very satisfying tie-in to Izzy True’s recent album release, “Nope,” which also deals heavily with the issue. The collaboration between the artists is every woman’s dream, with the haunting refrain “Will I feel insane forever?” echoing in the minds of anyone who’s ever doubted their own mental condition.
Lines like “I can’t fight the power ‘cause they right hooks!” and “you ain’t a mom yet, so every other goal don’t even matter ‘cause you ain’t accomplished” bring the track “1080p” into sharp relief with the debate on women’s ownership of their own bodies (the latter quote from Jean Grae’s featured verse).
“Qualified,” with Open Mike Eagle and Arch Thompson, opens like an old jazz standard with fuzzy percussion and Sammus’ sultry voice sliding ponderously over the syllables of the word “qualified.” It even has a jazz flute solo to complete the aesthetic. It’s a gentle finish to an album that won’t let you stop listening; a come-down from the high of empowerment that the rest of the album exudes.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 31 print edition. Email Hailey Nuthals at [email protected]