Monday, March 1st, 2021

Dawn Richard – Bussifame

Leaked from the Jukebox email list: “Y’all are gonna love this.”


Katherine St Asaph: SCENARIO: I’m still time traveling to 2011, except that the people, not liking my past hour of doomsaying, have threatened to yeet me back into the time machine unless I produce some actually good news. Fortunately, I have some: there will be a house revival, and Dawn Richard will be really good at it. And then I let them rip a copy to get a head start on dancing.

Thomas Inskeep: More than anything, this is striking: fusing Detroit techno with Nawlins bounce while exhorting her listeners to “bust it for me,” Richard is on some other shit. “Bussifame” is the kind of Afro-futurism I’ve always imagined Janelle Monae is shooting for but, to my ears, never quite achieves. Richard does so and makes it look easy.

Nortey Dowuona: The way Dawn opens this gorgeous synth horn line over shifting hi hats, bubbling bass and flapping claps, before dropping in heavy bass drums and clattering snares, puts it all in context for an audience who doesn’t know about that at all (a white, indie rock one) while still situating the context in a synth protagonist’s way. Then the kalimbas and bongos, alongside the lopsided bass, blow the song wide open as Dawn intones “pressure,” releasing it but finally grounding the original intro in unmissable context.

Austin Nguyen: Phasing echoes that turn the dancefloor into a cathedral, the best (implicit) Beyoncé wink in recent memory, and a buoyant flow of diving-board plosives, summer-concrete sizzles, and slurringly-intoxicating swagger. You can hear the actual Second Line drums clattering around in the background, and for once, the voguing choreography and Dropscotch animation flourishes are well-deserved: This is tireless intergalactic energy spent on the balls of your feet.

Alfred Soto: It has taken a decade of rhythmic explorations for Dawn Richard to produce a post-house track as lithe and irresistible as “Bussifame.” Art works this way sometimes.

Tobi Tella: A cathartic thrash in time where it feels like no one is moving; definition of no thoughts, just vibes.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I kind of hate it when dance tracks are about anything other than dance — it feels like admitting weakness, of unconsciously giving into critiques of the dancefloor as a frivolous place. “Bussifame” certainly does not have this problem. It’s as single-minded a song can be without becoming a tutorial, a torpedo that would absolutely wreck any sufficiently advanced party with sheer groove and charisma. It, admittedly, works less well when I’m just sitting at my desk. Ask me about it again when we can get out there — maybe I can bump my score up then.

Jessica Doyle: Knowing next to nothing about second line parades (which look intensely enjoyable even without factoring in once-we-get-out-of-the-pandemic wistfulness), I still could have guessed this was about pride and improvisation. Richard’s voice feels like the controlling thread running through multiple music decisions. Exploration can be fun; controlled presentation can be fun; striking the right balance of control and exploration is a trick, and the admiration of the skill required adds to the fun. I imagine attending a Richard Feynman lecture felt something like this.

John Seroff: Tkay Maidza is likely next in line, but I’m otherwise hard pressed to think of any contemporary pop artist who has been so consistently slept on for so long as Dawn “DΔWN” Richard. Nothing would make me happier than to see her recent signing to Merge result in long overdue mainstream stardom. Newcomers to Richard’s oeuvre could do worse than “Bussifame,” which contains any number of her signature moves: a lengthy and wordy intro (in this case, with bonus dying fire alarm bleat), reverb-heavy syncopated rapping and rousing diva-ish choruses over a sharp club beat, the bonus tease of a second song that’s as interesting as the first jammed onto the tail. I consider Dawn’s effortless creative spark to be her greatest strength as a songwriter. She’s staked out a uniquely personal sound but still finds ways to offer a near endless number of ingenious variations on her central themes of self actualization and self-exploration. I am certain that I have said this every year since 2013, but I really can’t wait for Dawn’s new album.

Reader average: [8.4] (5 votes)

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One Response to “Dawn Richard – Bussifame”

  1. Didn’t blurb because I had nothing to say other than “it’s good” but would’ve given at least an [8], possibly [9].