In 2016, three roommates and verterans of Chicago’s DIY arts scene joined forces to form art-rap group Sex No Babies. In the years since, rapper Rahim Salaam, producer Bento, and composer Matthew Gladly have shared bills with Sen Morimoto, Rich Jones, Free Snacks, Blacker Face, and more. Now they’re releasing their debut project, a two-song “vignette” called scene one.
“I Can Only See Everything” opens with a pop hook sung over tinny guitar strums, but it soon bursts into bubbling bass. Salaam swaggers over the beat knock: “Devil’s advocate shit, it gets annoying / Hit you with blunt suit drip, my swag’s boiling / All I need is icing on this sugar and shortening.” “Something BIG” is a more downbeat counterpart. Salaam’s bluesy singing over the throbbing beats recalls TV on the Radio before giving way to a suite of beat switches and soul samples.
If you found this digging through crates, it’d be worthy of a double A-side. The two songs on scene one combine warbled blues, glitchy electronics, and head-banging hip-hop into a compelling whole. The debut’s cohesive sound is a testament to the group’s chemistry. “We all praise art and believe in the amateur, which results in us lifting each other up,” Bento says.
Sex No Babies has already planned their follow-ups: scenes two and three are due in January and March, respectively. “This is the flashy one,” Gladly says. “The next is more dancy, and last is boom-bap.” The group will tour in November and in 2020 to support each release.
scene one is out now on Sinkhole Sounds. You can grab it here or preview it below, along with a video for “I Can Only See Everything.”