Probably no one expected Sub Pop to put out one of last year's best hip hop albums, Shabazz Palaces' Black Up, but they did. (and while it's true that my opinion is worth nothing on this, plenty of other people who know better agreed.) Possibly even fewer would have anticipated a repeat performance from the Fortress of Grunge, but god-damned here it comes with the all-female, jazz-influenced, intricate and cerebral TheeSatisfaction, whose album awE naturalE is out in March on (you guessed it) SubPop.
TheeSatisfaction is comprised of two very capable and self-confident young women -- Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White -- who met in college at the University of Washington. I am not really sure how they do what they do, whether one of them is primarily concerned with the chilled contrapuntal arrangements, the other with the dressed-up soul vocals that slither over them. Or maybe they switch off. Or maybe they both do a little of each. In either case, makes no difference, this is sophisticated, multi-layered stuff, touched with fusion jazz and piano bar torch and consciousness rap, cool but not at all unemotional.
I believe in supporting women artists, but I don't think it has to mean pretending to like Whitney Houston or to find deep meaning in Madonna's half-time show...why not celebrate something female-powered that's aimed at your heart and brain, rather than your wallet?