You might remember him as acclaimed electro-rapper Spank Rock. But these days, Naeem Juwan apparently wants to make a name for himself. And he should have no problem, thanks to his outstanding debut Startisha. Idiosyncratic, inspired and innovative, this nine-song heartfeld hybrid of rap, soul and electronics peppers its freewheeling arrangements and anything-goes production with unexpected cameos by Swamp Dogg, Justin Vernon, Velvet Negroni and more. But all that star power can’t pull focus from Juwan’s nimbly flowing rhymes and haunting croon. Bonus points for opening the show with a boldly soulful reinvention of Silver Apples’ ’60s electro-rock nugget You and I. With Startisha, Naeem is undeniably off to a good (re)start.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Startisha introduces Naeem as a restlessly creative artist with an impressionistic, genre-bending album. As a complete work, Startisha exemplifies artistic daring and emotional intelligence while exploring new ideas and sounds, and philosophically excavating the artist’s histories. Startisha may be loaded with impressive collaborations and left-field sounds, but don’t get it twisted — this music comes straight from Naeem’s heart, representing the journey he’s taken to get to this point as well as what lies in the future for him. Baltimore-hailing Naeem Juwan has spent much of the last decade stretching his creative legs in a variety of ways: he’s hit the road with artists ranging from The Avalanches and Bon Iver to Big Red Machine and Mouse on Mars, took part in a 37d03d residency in Berlin, and was selected as the music resident in 2019 for New York’s Pioneer Works space. Through it all, he’s been building the songs that make up Startisha, a record a half-decade in the making that featured Juwan pulling from creative circles all across the U.S. to craft a truly unique document of sound.”