Young Fathers have scared the shit out of people three times: once back in 2014, when the Scottish three-piece (live, a sometimes four-piece) received the Mercury Prize for their asymmetrical hip-pop album Dead, beating out surefire frontrunners FKA twigs and Damon Albarn with their diasporic brand of experimental, architectural sad-guy bangers; then when they named their Mercury-supported follow-up album White Men Are Black Men Too; and again in 2015 when they performed in Central Park as part of a concert curated by Okayafrica.
Young Fathers play on our cultural expectation that artists can never, ever have a bad day at work like the average person. Rarely do the band members make eye contact, even when digital rhythms dissipate into polyrhythms, casting prisms, unfolding. The whisper-light, gossamer twine of their voices is indicative of exactly who they are: three guys who dragged each other, kicking and screaming, out of puberty (the band formed in 2008 after meeting at under-sixteen rap nights). Not relying on antics or attitude, allowing their sub-contextual, dreamy lyrics and music to speak for them, they clearly take themselves seriously, thereby demanding we take them seriously, too. — Meredith Graves
Photos by Alex Pines for the Village Voice