It makes sense that Seattle duo THEESatisfaction would have links with Toronto's own 88 Days of Fortune collective of musicians and artists. Both cultivate queer-friendly black empowerment vibes through left-field hip-hop expressionism. In fact, the interplay between THEESatisfaction's Cat and Stas feels like a polished, ripened version of 88 Days' own sing-rap girl duo Bizzarh.
With the support of Sub Pop and Shabazz Palaces (they appeared on the group's 2011 LP Black Up), THEESatisfaction deliver a one-two to hip-hop on awE naturalE. The messages - love, acceptance, Afrocentricity - and musical cues, from jazz to hippie rap, help expand on what's viable in the oft-rigid genre. Much of the music moves fluidly between singing and rapping spread thick over resonant, out-of-time piano loops (Earthseed, Existinct, Crash). And though the overall groove ("Don't funk with it," they advise on QueenS) is freewheeling enough to avoid being preachy, awE naturalE is implicitly political - a meditation on being black and queer and in this world.
Top track: QueenS