Yesterday (July 20) was Muhsinah’s birthday. As a gift, The Golden Girl offered The Oscillations: Square, a 13-track digital exclusive, to her loyal fan base. I’m two tracks in, and I love it already. With Muhsinah, it never takes much. I heart her now and forever.
If you haven’t heard of this Washington, D.C. phenom by now, well, you’ve been surfing the wrong parts of the web. (I’m listening to tracks as I write. “That Day” just started. My god it’s a scorcher.) Muhsinah, a classically trained pianist with fabulously mellifluous and effortless-sounding vocals, has taken up residence in the coolest enclave of the internet. A star (light, star bright) in a constellation of internet- and space age-inspired women including, Janelle Monae, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Miss Jack Davey (the vocal half of the darling J*Davey), and Brittany Bosco, Muhsinah has guested on tracks with Common (“Changes” from Universal Mind Control), The Foreign Exchange (“Daykeeper” and “House of Cards” from Leave it All Behind— arguably the best album of ’08), and a host of others. Sometimes I just put her cover of Radiohead’s “Scatterbrain” on repeat, because it seems like the right thing to do.
The other week, I was fortunate enough to catch Muhsinah opening for PPP (featuring Coultrain–boy crush!–and Monica Blaire, whose cover of Madonna’s “Material Girl” I really dig). I ended up being irked by my fellow Chicagoans because I felt that they didn’t properly–if at all–understand just how spectacular Muhsinah’s music is. After her set, she stood an arm’s length away from me. I wanted to tell her that I really enjoyed her set and appreciated her work. Maybe I wanted to tell her something else. There was plenty of stuff I could’ve said: How the marriage of her vocal cadence with beats, the way she united Dilla and Alice Coltrane (two of her stated influences), the refreshing quirkiness of her lyrics, and her simultaneous genre-busting and -merging are pretty much one of dopest things in music right now. But I got scared. Shame on me.
Forget lending my ears, Muhsinah can have them. And though mathematically challenged, I gladly ease through my week with her latest offering, The Oscillations: Square. You should, too.