This Black History Month, Atwood Magazine has invited artists to participate in a series of essays, interviews, reviews, poetry, playlists, and more features in recognition of, and out of respect for the symbolism and significance of this month.
Today, British-Nigerian artist Tony Njoku goes track-by-track through his dark, cinematic & hip-hop influenced EP KILLTONY as a part of Atwood Magazine’s Black History Month series. An electronic music producer and songwriter based in London, Lagos-born Njoku has been pushing the boundaries of what “pop” music can look like since his 2016 debut. With three increasingly progressive and genre-defiant albums and 2020’s compelling Justine EP under his belt, the artist released his experimental KILLTONY EP on February 12, 2021 via Silent Kid Records. Blending industrial with contemporary hip-hop elements, the four-track EP represents a distinct, fresh break from Njoku’s past work. Nevertheless, these songs continue to find Njoku doing what he does best: Push limits, break boundaries, and subvert expectations.
“The EP is a short collection of some songs I began working on during quarantine,” Njoku explains. “They are mainly influenced by modern hip-hop production and also feature the most rap vocal performances in any of my releases yet. The EP showcases another shift in style to add to my growing arsenal. The beats are aggressive, catchy, fun and weird.” Dramatic songs like the sweeping “ZORO” ft. Zoro Jackson and the filmic overhaul “DEATH BY DIMITRI” are as provocative as they are utterly absorptive; meanwhile, opener “KILLTONY” delivers a captivating, immersive (and at times overwhelming) soundscape to set the scene, and “THE STRANGE DANCE OF REALITY” envelops listeners with an irresistible, unrelenting onslaught of stunning bass and synth work that contributes to a mesmerizing set of rhythms and beats. Ultimately, KILLTONY is one of the more unique and strikingly diverse ten-minute musical journeys you will embark on in 2021. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Tony Njoku’s KILLTONY EP with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his new record!
“With this EP I just wanted to have fun, I wanted to explore some musical genres that I hadn’t really worked in before (i.e. modern rap music) and just bring those elements into my practice. Making this EP was sweet, nothing felt overstated or like I was trying too hard. However that’s not a bad thing, I’m very proud of the work I’m presenting, its an expansion of my practice and thematically it follows on from the long thread of musical ideas I’ve been building on since my first self releases. But here it’s sharp, loud, aggressive, funny, weird, fresh and beautiful.” – Tony Njoku
Stream: ‘KILLTONY EP’ – Tony Njoku
:: Inside KILLTONY ::
The title track is my favourite at the moment. It features a brilliant verse from New World Ray, who’s an amazing rapper and musician in his own right as well as my younger brother, so it was great for us to do work together for the first time finally. The track was a way for me to bring things that I’m not proud of about myself to the surface, in an attempt to understand them and elicit change. Facing my stuff to try and tame the ego, to try and promote awareness of my shadows and hopefully cultivate a healthier outlook and reaction to life and others etc. These things can be very difficult to deal with of course but I wanted to present them in a fun way. Why can’t shortcomings be laughed about in the midst of growth right? Even if painful, if possible we should still try have fun.
ZORO too is a fun ride through some interesting and at time poignant themes. The track features a new UK rapper that I hope to hear more from in the future. I sort of just gave him the beat to do whatever he felt lyrically. A lot of the lyrics are quite self facing and unashamedly boastful, which is typical for this kind of work and some are quite thought provoking as well as sentimental; and the delivery is explosive in parts. I also think this is the only rap song I’ve heard that mentions the Anthropocene. Which is funny to me.
THE STRANGE DANCE OF REALITY
The Strange Dance Of Reality is an experimental waltz. It’s a song that makes reference to the avant-garde dancer and artist Yvonne Rainer’s style of dance and uses it as a metaphor to describe how I see/experience our lives playing out from moment to moment. Ebbing and flowing, rising and falling, decaying and growing; we’re all part of this nearly formless dance that’s perhaps aimless and definitely awkward but either way, in an endless scene, helps us create this strange reality. We’re all co-creators of this madness.
DEATH BY DIMITRI
Dimitri sort of follows on from that thought, but takes a more fearful approach I guess. There’s less hope here, instead of moving towards growth it’s “marching towards death”. And though that’s not a bad thing, I mean it’s inevitable…. however the tone here is fearful and perhaps angry. But in all that existential angst there’s still hope…here it’s presented as the guise of abstraction, psychedilia, the dive into the inner realm, spiritual relief etcetera etcetera. Production wise, it has the liquid feel to it. Like a lot of my production there’s that psychedelic quality in there as well. Essentially it’s a slow cruising trap influenced track about the enlightening qualities of intense psychedelic experiences.
📸 © 2021
:: Tony Njoku ::