Gaika’s addictive cocktail of grime, dancehall and futurism has made him one of the most exciting new artists of the last few years. But surprisingly, he hasn’t yet released a full length album. All that is about to change when Warp Records drops Basic Volume on the 27th of July. Coming in at 15 tracks, the song titles evoke the cybergothic, rebellious world view that drives his work- ‘Hackers and Jackers’,’Warlord Shoes’ and most tellingly ‘Black Empire (KillmomgerRiddim)’.
In the build up to the album, Gaika has released two advance tracks- ‘Crown and Key’ and ‘Immigrant Sons (Pesos & Gas)’. ‘Crown and Key’ is a menacing soundscape, in which tales from an hedonistic underworld are undergirded by massive trance synths. While it slowly insinuates itself, ‘Immigrant Sons’ is an immediate banger, with the anthemic hook “Bad yutes from me downtown, I wanna see you just fly” rearing over beats from UK producer SOPHIE. The songs are thematically linked by two visually resplendent music videos directed by Paco Raterta. Filmed among a ruined building in the Philippines, both pieces show a cascade of Christian imagery, masked gang members and cultists, smoke and tropical haze. It’s occasionally grotesque, always beautiful.
The political climate of xenophobia and state violence against migrants and the poor has long been a theme in Gaika’s work. The very title of ‘Immigrant Sons’ is a powerful statement when the US government is gleefully locking up the children of immigrants in cages. The song’s empowering sentiment is to praise the fortitude and resilience of people who are brutally stigmatised by governments and the right wing media. Both its theme and epic chorus echo M.I.A’s 2007 classic ‘Paper Planes’, another subversive anthem for the global diaspora. In 2018, Gaika is reminding us that no one is illegal.