When Brittany Howard released 2019’s Jaime, the album immediately began exposing Howard to new types of fanbases she had never before reached in her work with Alabama Shakes. “I have people coming out from all different pockets of what they like,” she told Rolling Stone last month.
Never before have the genre-pushing possibilities of Howard’s newfound solo career been as clear-cut as they are on the new Earthgang remix of “Goat Head.” The Atlanta hip-hop duo of Olu and WowGr8 use her track as a launching pad, sampling Howard and drummer Nate Smith’s beat and Robert Glasper’s piano in their two potent verses that speak black grief, trauma, and resistance.
As such, “Goat Head,” which originally recounted a tale of racial intimidation Howard’s family faced when she was a kid growing up in Alabama, becomes a Southern black meditation on American racial violence and police brutality.
The song’s chorus comes from an urgent new melody from Howard that recasts the national anthem as something much darker (“O say can you see/Guns aimin’ at me”). But for the most part, Howard cedes the song to Earthgang, who shout-out primary Jaime influence Prince, offer up their portrait of a summer of Black Lives Matter protests, and vocalize their own self-conscious soul-searching: “My career soars while black bodies hit the floor,” raps Olu. “I feel guilt, shame, I could always do some more/Are words enough? Does the storytelling lighten the burden up?”
WowGr8, meanwhile, connects the black South’s past, present, and future in his blistering second verse: “Had to fuck the city up to make ‘em take us serious,” he raps. “Don’t pick up your cell, 12, wet you like amphibian/They put us all through hell and tell us God work so mysterious.” In their remix, Earthgang elevates Howard’s original, connecting the dots between generations as well as genres.
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