By the time God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It fades into its coda, it’s evident to anyone listening that Backxwash knows exactly who she is.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is only one way to listen to God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It properly: in sequential order on endless repeat, as loud as you can physically stand, and as long as your emotional stamina can bear it. It is the only way that one could possibly come close to understanding the scope and scale of the story Montreal-based horrorcore rapper Backxwash shares with listeners on this highly intense and vulnerable record. Moving through Backxwash’s formative years growing up in a highly religious family and community in Zambia to moving to Canada and discovering her queerness and art, God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It carves out a place of personal, intimate details to live amidst a highly stylized and bat-shit scary soundtrack that serves to draw you further into the narrative, rather than push you away.
Admittedly, I’m new to horrorcore rap. Beyond Backxwash’s previous full-length release, 2019’s Deviancy and a handful of EPs and singles, I’d still consider myself a neophyte when it comes to the genre, but God Has Nothing to Do With This… has made me a believer. In one tight ten-song-twenty-minute album, rapper/producer Ashanti Mutinta pushes beyond the constraints of any genre classification to create the year’s noisiest, nastiest, exhilarating affirmation of self and identity. Her pain and vulnerability are evident right off the top when she unleashes her personal demons on the album’s biting title track. Brandishing a kick-ass Black Sabbath sample and pairing it with end-of-the-world doom beats, “God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It” puts you right at the crux of Backxwash’s intersectionality. She recently described in an interview in Xtra how “it was such a big step going from a cis dude to someone who’s non-binary to a trans woman… I reached a point where I realized this is who I am.”
Even while revisiting her past and exploring her trauma on the pummeling “Black Sheep” and thrill-ride “Into the Void”, the underlying message that miraculously rises to the top of Backxwash’s music is that she’s not only survived the horrors, but is now thriving. She goes on to say in the Xtra interview that making music provided her with a therapeutic outlet and that discovering how to express herself personally and artistically helped make sense of her past. Nowhere is that more evident than on “Amen” and “Redemption”, the pair of powerful tracks that close the album out. The former is shot through with a YouTube video sample of Mutinta’s former church in Zambia that morphs and melts in order to be repurposed as the song’s beating heart. The latter takes a sermon from a popular megachurch leader and recasts it as further affirmation that no one and nothing will ever convince Backxwash that all the trauma, pain, confrontation, and challenges that she’s faced was in vain. By the time “Redemption” fades into its slinky, funky coda, it’s evident to anyone who’s listened to God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It front-to-back that Backxwash knows exactly who she is.