Existential Hip Hop from Sheffield in Collab with Future Islands. - Otis Mensah x Hemlock Ernst: Breath of Life
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posted 07 Jun 2020 by Krister Axel
Offers listeners a moment to confront their own, internal contradictions of spirit and intention.

We've covered the music of Otis Mensah before - he is a young rap-poet with a bright future and an interesting story to tell. "Breath of Life" is the first episode from #OtisMensahExists — a series of singles that welcomes new listeners to Sheffield’s poet laureate and his signature off-kilter, jazz-inspired hip-hop.

Featuring Hemlock Ernst (of Future Islands), this brooding track explores themes of anxiety, fear, and claustrophobia. Against a canvas of mellow, jazz-flavored musicianship, Otis & Hemlock paint a complex lyrical scene with precise language and effortless flow. The vibe is sentimental, and offers a platform for extensive self-exploration: as his work sheds light on existential commonalities through the lens of vulnerable expression, Mensah offers listeners a moment to confront their own, internal contradictions of spirit and intention. Life is the gift, and it is up to each of us to understand the value of it. With a live sound to the rhythm section, and a beautiful counterpoint of soul-flavored vocal harmony, "Breath of Life" exposes a new facet of nuance with every listen.

Brave is the novelist
I sleep with the bayonet because
Sly is the orifice
Time is the coroner
Live at the concert hall

Lyrics & performance by Otis Mensah and Hemlock Ernst. Instrumental music by Brelstaff. Recorded by Oliver Harrap. Mixed & Mastered by the intern.

This song is featured on our Hip Hop playlist.

About the Author

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Krister Bjornson Axel

Ashland, Oregon

Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.


Recent Awards: 2020 ND (Photo) Honorable Mention, 2020 Accenti Writing Contest Finalist


Read my poetry here.