Nothing to Declare is a smart, danceable revelation. The darburka drums of their 2018 debut, Spa 700, are present, but here they’re submerged into a chiseled soundscape of dive bombing bass, piercing bleeps, crunchy distortion, and wavering synth lines. On “Anthology,” Moor Mother pays homage to Katherine Dunham, the matriarch of Black dance. Elsewhere, her flow is sometimes processed and distorted into monstrous shapes, with Haram delivering a foil to her vicious spitting on “Bless Grips,” “No more Kings,” and the title track, “Nothing to Declare.”
Welcoming in a variety of voices from their extended, cross-genre scene, they also bring along a cast of collaborators, giving space for additional points of view and their own voices. Orion Sun lends her cooing vocals to the tough affirmations of “Nightflame.” On the dark grime of “Totally Spies,” Lawfandah’s lead vocals are compressed into a metallic shimmer. Palestinian producer Muqata’a co-produces on “Candace Parker,” with a flurry of breakbeats and distortion. Vocalist Ali Logout from the band Special Interest barks a declaration of intent on “Capitol,” while writer M Téllez delivers a surreal sci fi monologue over a pounding kick drum on “More Victories.” Nothing to Declare finishes with the ground-down, malfunctioning “Lead Level 15,” Moor Mother’s slow vocals distorted over lumbering synths, with Ase Manual delivering an urgent questioning verse.
Nothing To Declare is a take-no-prisoners, deeply layered rewriting of hip hop and electronic music that gives more with each listen. It’s loud and frenetic. It’s playful and fun. You won’t hear another rap album like it this year or next.