Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Brisbane's lo-fi scene gave rise to jamie who is now BLACKSHEEP, an artist using his rap skills to make sense of his life. He has delivered his new album which is a tough but rewarding listen.
Son of a Glitch is the new album from BLACKSHEEP aka Jamie Barneveld. It follows on from his debut album psychosis in 2019 (released under the moniker jamie) and represents his move to a harder-edged rap sound yet with the same dark lyrical themes.
Starting at the end, the final track is titled Ecdysis which means the shedding of ones skin, usually in nature. As an artist he likes to work fast and tends to change styles and genres quickly. As he says "this album already feels like my old skin, the first track you hear in Ecdysis is the first song I ever made, neglected which quickly cuts out and is replaced by a harder hitting beat. I splice in a few samples of older songs and if you listen closely you’ll hear a snippet of a track from an upcoming EP."
I asked Jamie about his inspiration for the album. He told me "the title came from a lyric I wrote a long time ago. The more I sat with the phrase the more it felt like an album, since it really connected with me. I've never really felt like I belonged here, never really fit in, I feel like a glitch. The lyrics are quite dark, I write about how I feel and what’s been happening, and lately it’s all been very dark."
He continued "the whole album pretty much sums up the last few years of my life, dark and miserable, but it’s character development so who gives a fuck." Admirable stuff.
Album opener is Sesame Street - not so much a memory of a happy childhood more like triggering a longing for a better upbringing and a fear of growing up. As with many tracks on the album the samples and track snippets collide with the raw, unfiltered lyrics (especially apparent with that Sesame Street theme) yet the effect is to heighten the senses rather than feel jarring.
Sister is the emotional centrepiece of the album and was almost left off. Even in 2020 it feels shocking as he raps about how a family member abused him as a child. The obvious pain and anger have been compounded as Jamie recounted to me: "recently I came out and told the rest of my family about it and they all told me I was lying." That's what produced lines such as 'hope you know that you're the cause if I produce an early corpse.' And maybe it's helping him deal with the pain and the anger as he raps 'I choose a different route, shake a branch I fall and I'm free, a new tree, new seed and a new family.'
My personal favourite is Same old new me which "presents a stylistic change partway through the song, this represents the growth I feel I’ve had after experiencing this turmoil." The lines may or may not be autobiographical but they give an insight into his mind: '...I'm so over the seizures, can't cope and I can't smoke no reefers, ever since the acid gave me schizophrenia...'
It's not just the lyrics. The raps are delivered in a cool, almost detached style, which puts me in mind of Loyle Carner. Sonically it's a treat too with a great array of inventive arrangements, beeps, bleeps and spoken word segments which enhance rather than overwhelm. Ket deserves a special mention with its nervy, stuttering rhythm which may or may not reflect your K-time.
Overall Son of a Glitch is a compact, coherent album which shocks, surprises and pleases. Let's hope BLACKSHEEP doesn't undergo ecdysis any time soon as more of this would certainly be welcome.
Son of a Glitch is currently only available on Soundcloud.