If her newest work is anything to go by, it seems Namasenda enjoys a video game; more specifically, given song titles such as ‘Black Ops 2’ and ‘Finish Him’, we are in the 90s to noughties league of kapows, “hyuh”s and “K.O”s with a side of automatic weaponry. The Swedish sensation dares bystanders to listen with the cover of debut mixtape Unlimited Ammo. Shot by Hannah Diamond – herself a purveyor of what has come to be known as hyperpop – the image leans into a PVC-clad, Matrix-evoking aesthetic with a smoking gun of intent: if you pick their pill, are you prepared for the consequences of the trip?
While this era seems to sit somewhere between cosplay and concept art and, in turn, between fantasy and a less-satisfying reality, the overall binary is not something new for Namasenda. With last year’s A. G. Cook-produced double drop ‘Dare’ being a case in point, with its respective (AM) and (PM) releases, the twin play flits from sparsely chilled and delirious euphoria with a flip of a coin. At the time she described the polarising mixes as “the mood I go through over 24 hours”, transforming from “sad and sentimental” to a “bad bitch”. Why choose between alter-egos when you can be both?
“The artificial nature of hyperpop as a subgenre, with its whirring, cyberpunk allusions and sticky techno plasticity makes for a bastardised sound that is both abrasive and alluring”
Namasenda was dropping music before “hyperpop” was in the common tongue (take a listen to ‘Donut’ from her debut EP, 2017’s hot_babe_93), but as one of the newer alumni of the – at this point – seminal record label PC Music, she has found a family. And with this family in mind, there is little wonder that Unlimited Ammo and its accompanying visuals are scattered with pop culture references that buy into consumerist, brutalist obsession. The artificial nature of hyperpop as a subgenre, with its whirring, cyberpunk allusions and sticky techno plasticity makes for a bastardised sound that is both abrasive and alluring.
And given the clutch of collaborations, Unlimited Ammo is certainly a family affair. Labelmate Hannah Diamond crops up on the gleeful bounce of ‘Steel’, while wildcard choice Mowalola Ogunlesi – a designer with a penchant for Windows 95 memes – helps stir a static clash into the throbbing ‘Banana Clip’. There’s an undeniable nostalgia found in the sonic rush of the mixtape, but Unlimited Ammo pulls from a range of modern exasperations too, be it dating etiquette (“Ghost him, dump him… roast him”) on ‘Finish Him’ or the persistent “annoying person who keeps blowing up your phone” on the R&B influenced ‘No Regrets’. With the latter self-described as her “own version of ‘Bug-a-boo’”, some tales are as old as time.
Despite its mainstream formulaicity, dance has always been a boundary pushing genre. Emulating the liberating culture associated with those roots, hyperpop has breathed experimental life into a space that can, many times, feel stale. Namasenda is, at present, the one of the only Black women with a sizable co-sign navigating hyperpop; here’s hoping more people of colour find a home in the space, with tapes like Unlimited Ammo leading the way.
Namasenda – ‘Shots Fired’
The closing track to Unlimited Ammo, ‘Shots Fired’ is a full throttle riot. Capturing that now-iconic plasticky PC Music touch and coupled with the barraging assault of hardcore trance, the track captures the liberating energy of the club with its relentless beats and synths. “You don’t love me anymore,” states Namasenda, matter-of-factly; as break-up anthems go, this is a classy middle finger up.
Yaeji ‘ 29’ feat. OHHYUK
Yaeji has had quite the trajectory since the release of last year’s debut album WHAT WE DREW. Returning with ‘29’, a collaboration with OHHYUK (founder of Seoul indie band HYUKOH) the track is the first time that Yaeji has worked so closely with someone on music – not that you’d know it. Flitting production and a squirming undercurrent of bass divulge an ominous air, but the catchy refrain belies the lighter feeling of fun and community.
Shygirl – ‘Cleo’
It could be said that Shygirl has set herself up as a tough act to follow in the wake of ‘BDE’ – her showstopping collaboration with slowthai – earlier in the year. How do you follow up a song so iconic? In this instance, the answer seems to be leaning in the opposite direction. New single ‘Cleo’ is an atmospheric dancefloor filler with its four-to-the-floor beat, house-influenced touch and glacial vocal: to the club we go.
daine – ‘cemetery dreams’
daine has come a long way in the past twelve months, finding fans in Charli XCX, 100gecs’ Dylan Brady and Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes, who she collaborated with on her previous single ‘Salt’. Having just announced her debut mixtape is set to drop in early 2022, it makes sense to take it back to where it all began. The first song she ever wrote, ‘cemetery dreams’ is a dreamy dose of emo alt-pop that captures the apathy of a departed romance.
Swindle – ‘No More’ feat. Greentea Peng
Plucked from his newly announced album The New World, Swindle’s latest single ‘No More’ is the latest in a run of singles this year. Enlisting south-east London wonder Greentea Peng, the track strikes a reggae-infused swagger with deep, brassy inflections and coercive rhythm as Greentea opines on the purpose of life with her uniquely husky tone.