Must Peep Monday #5

Church // Samm Henshaw ft. EARTHGANG

I know it’s still pretty much winter, and we’re probably still on the hook for at least one more surprise snowstorm courtesy of climate change, but it’s never too early to get into the spirit of things. This week’s featured track is Church by Samm Henshaw ft. EARTHGANG, and it’s so sunny, I swear it’s to blame for yesterday’s expected snowfall turning into rain instead.

Samm Henshaw is a fairly new name in music, with a total of two EPs comprising his entire discography thus far. His music leans heavily into the soul side of neo-soul. Samm’s voice is as smooth as a cool iced tea, and he can navigate a wide range of dynamics and pitch with ease and charisma. If you’re a fan of Chance the Rapper’s more melodic music, I can’t recommend Henshaw enough.

“Church” features many sonic elements from — you guessed it — church. Hand-claps and “ooh”s from an imaginary choir introduce the song, before being joined by a strong piano chord progression. Much of the song could actually be translated into a real church performance, provided the clergy had a solid band arrangement on hand.

The chorus explodes with brassy stabs, upbeat drums, and an ascending funky bassline. The instrumentation features the occasional electronic element, but never conspicuously so. Where Henshaw does sneak in an 808 clap or a synth melody, it’s to accentuate the live elements rather than overpower them.

There’s a exuberant busyness that almost demands audience participation, similar to the group persuasion of actually singing in a large crowd. Really — I dare you to last the full 3:48 without tapping a foot or cracking a smile.

The feature couldn’t be more fitting. EARTHGANG, who I often characterize as a modernized Outkast, absolutely ooze energy and spirit on every track they’re on. This live rendition of their song “Up” from the hopefully-soon-dropping Mirrorland is a stellar introduction to the Atlanta hip-hop duo. But maybe the best part about EARTHGANG is that every song they’re on is just as good an example: They never fail to deliver 100% enthusiasm, spunk and weirdness, and “Church” is no exception.

I’ll definitely be blasting this one with the windows down as soon as the weather permits. Maybe even a little bit before then.

-Jonah Bird

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