The experimental art of “Spilligion”

The experimental art of

Ben Burton, Writer

Rap Collective Spillage Village released their fourth collaborative album Spilligion, on Friday, September 25th, 2020. Spillage Village consists of various artists, EarthGang, JID, 6lack, Mereba, Hollywood JB, and Benji. 

 

The new album slowly puts in elements of spirituality and religion into the pot of southern rap. With segments like Ant Clemons’ angelic performance on “Baptize” or the playful chorus of “Mecca,” the idea of spirituality in modern rap is more prominent than ever. But the representation of mainstream rap content; talking about the money, the cars, the girls, the drugs, is being mixed with spirituality, becoming a glamorous yet experimental art.

 

Rapper JID explained in an interview with Rolling Stones that he originally planned to make this project an “open-door policy” where artists would come in and out of the house he rented out for this project in Atlanta. Soon after Atlanta issued the stay-at-home orders in early April, JID changed his plan and invited the current members of Spillage Village into the house. 

 

The idea of “open door policy” projects has been very common with modern day music. Artists creating new music will have fellow musicians come in and out of the studio and end at that. But the stay-at-home orders became a double-edged sword. While JID was unable to have the big names on his new LP and possibly had to shift the focus of his new record, he was able to come together with his friends of the Spillage Village collective and enjoy the pastime of making music together.

 

But I must back-pedal and talk about the combination of spiritual rap and typical rap. The concept of religion in rap has been becoming more of a common theme. The duo of spirituality and rap culture is widely prevalent in this project. Instances like the folk-rap track “Baptize”, creates a moody yet substantive song and is one of the most “rap-like” songs on the album. But the way that the rap collective incorporates religious aspects into this track really brings the duality together. 

 

The main focus of “Spilligion” that I found is the celebration of black spirituality as resistance to  the current social issues in America. On the track “Hapi”, Mereba sings, “So you get rich, I’ma try to get free.” In my opinion this perfectly encapsulates the ideas on this album. The concepts of getting rich vs. getting free can be contrasted socially and spiritually. Being free spiritually is a freedom of emotion and thought. Being able to conquer your hardships of feelings and thoughts. Mereba is saying that while you focus on achieving wealth, she is going to focus on herself. Being free socially can be best described as an escape from capitalism. She is trying to say that while you focus on achieving wealth in our capitalist economy, she is going to work on getting free from the boundaries of American capitalism that african Americans are hurt by the most. 

“Spilligion” is an experimental masterpiece, that is not only sonically breathtaking but also dabbles in the ideology of spirituality of modern times and also the current social issues Black Americans face. I think the Atlanta collective has done an amazing job at keeping a consistent focus to the music and also bringing much-needed attention to topics such as the race divisions of capitalism, the systemic racism facing inner city neighborhoods and the racial inequality of the United States. This album has a special place in my heart and I am so excited to see what comes next from Spillage Village.

 

Spillage Village recently did a performance with “NPR Tiny Desk Concert”. The concert perfectly represents the aesthetic of the project: You can view the concert here.