A password will be e-mailed to you.

There’s a particular moment that happens during any Joseph Chilliams set. Bass throbbing across the venue, he locks eyes with an unsuspecting audience member and raises his finger in their direction before he begins to seductively swivel his hips from side to side. The initial reaction from the crowd is always tense and awkward, but as the moves become more irreverent so do their charm and eventually, those in attendance are united by cheers and laughter.

Reflective of his on-stage work is Chilliams’ recently released debut project, Henry Church. Wrapped around hilariously bizarre references, dense production and a direct stance against hypermasculinity, the 13-track project can be difficult to fully unpack in one sitting. Nonetheless, once invested in the brilliance behind his ability to seamlessly weave together different ideas with humor, self-awareness and proud nonconformity, Henry Church becomes an endearingly unique body of work.

“Mr. Socko” finds Chilliams boasting about flirting at the Kwik-E-Mart, leaving hickeys in unpredictable places and categorizing himself as a unicorn without forgetting to call out Hollywood’s whitewashing, while “Kale” defiantely takes on the trappings of the music industry alongside Noname and Supa Bwe.

Joseph is gifted in making you laugh without undermining his bigger, more serious statements. We don’t often get hip-hop records that call out misogyny and even fewer that are as straightforward about doing so as “Shake My Ass,” featuring Jamila Woods. Switching roles between the two voices to narrate the thoughts and interactions of a sexist man and a woman, the song sonically deconstructs the farce that is machismo and deals upfront with the dangerous sexualization of women. On its first listen, the imagery of a tall and skinny Chilliams’ shaking his ass like a rattlesnake is humorous, but soon after the true context of the song is revealed, the listener is left to confront his own perception of gender norms. You wouldn’t want to play this at a party, but you definitely would want every man in attendance to hear it beforehand.

No more articles