Rafiq Bhatia – Hoods Up

Rafiq Bhatia of Son Lux has just announced a new solo album. The name of the new collection is Breaking English, and it’s the artist’s first release on Anti- records. The lead track from the upcoming instrumental sequence has now been shared, it’s called “Hoods Up”, and we’re going to talk about it for a bit.

The album promises to address the freedoms, and limitations, of language.  Linguistically, “Hoods Up” has at least several meanings. We raise our hoods to conceal our heads, our faces, and to protect us from scrutiny or the elements. Hoods are the universal garment favored by street kids. Hoods offer a silly-terrifying-silly white mask for members of the KKK. We raise the hoods of our cars to look inside the engine; to take an analytical look at the workings, and to fathom what’s going wrong. Rafiq Bhatia knows what he’s doing when he toys with language in this way. In one hand he conceals and dresses an image with colored filters, and in the other he suggests a new way of looking. There’s a clarity in this purposeful juxtaposition.

Speaking of the process behind this track, Bhatia said: “I started sculpting “Hoods Up” in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s senseless killing and the subsequent smear campaign against him: the systematic dehumanization of a young black teenager walking home in a hoodie. As I worked away at the song, escalating current events began to add layers of meaning to it. The white hoods from our country’s past kept coming out of the woodwork, reminding us of the horrifying influence they continue to exert in the present.”

Instrumentally, the track delivers wave after wave of self-assurance. Chimes, tension, beats, release. We’ve heard these devices used by the artist across previous tracks. 2012’s Yes It Will, was a collection that shared Bhatia’s love of the angular, the unusual, and the deep reward of pushing through conventional expectation. However, here there is something else, something even more. If “Hoods Up” is an indication of what to expect from Breaking English we’re in for more passion, more anger, and even greater riches.





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