billy woods releases beautiful new album ‘Aethiopes’: Stream



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As one half of the duo Armand Hammer, Billy Woods has been responsible for some of the best rap music I’ve heard in recent years, including the Alchemist collab in 2021 haram† But Billy Wood also makes really powerful music outside the context of Armand Hammer – like BRASShis 2020 collaboration LP with Moor Mother, or like the Kenny Segal-produced Hideouts, one of the best rap albums of recent years. In recent months, Wood has appeared on songs by artists such as Open Mike Eagle, Your Old Droog and Earl Sweatshirt. Today Woods released his first solo album in a few years, and it’s as awesome as you’d expect.

Billy Woods’ new album Ethiopians was produced almost entirely by Preservation, the New York beatmaker who teamed up with Ka for the excellent 2015 LP Days With Dr. Yen Lo and who released his own great guest-heavy album Eastern Medicine, Western Disease in 2020. The style of Preservation is dense and ghostly. The atmosphere owes a lot to jazz, film scores and psychedelia, and it’s rarely too busy with drums. That style gives woods plenty of space to reflect on the atrocities of 21st century life, and there really isn’t anyone better at that.

In some respects, Ethiopians is a lone, inward-looking headset. In another though, it’s a look at the underground rap community operating at the highest possible level. There are a lot of guests on Ethiopians, and they all did an amazing job, including El-P, Boldy James, Quelle Chris, Fatboi Sharif, Despot, Breeze Brewin, Gabe’ Nandez, Mike Ladd, Denmark Vessey, dancehall legend Shinehead and Woods’ Armand Hammer partner Elucid . This is a great record and you can stream it below.

Ethiopians is out now on Backwoodz Studioz. You can get it at Bandcamp.

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