Genesis Owusu can do it all. The Ghana-born Canberran made his presence felt in a big way with his 2021 debut Smiling with No Teeth, an album that was so critically-adored, he must surely have run out of space to display his collection of trophies. Smiling with No Teeth never set the charts alight, but oh boy did it collect hardware. The J Award for Australian Album of the Year, ARIA Awards, the Australian Music Prize. All of them.
Those talents extend beyond music. When he played Sydney’s Enmore Theatre in March 2022, Owusu made the earth move — the floor split and threatened to swallow punters. Things happen when Genesis is in the house.
Struggler is the long-awaited follow-up. Like its predecessor, Struggler doesn’t ask to be pigeonholed, and doesn’t care about your format. From the opening notes of lead single “Leaving the Light” and its synthwave power source, Owusu is the master of all things. “That’s Life (A Swamp)” fuses funk and jazz, “See Ya There” is a sweet slice of neo-soul, “Freak Boy” is a slap in the face from an indie kid with an attitude.
Where Smiling with No Teeth is a rumination on racism and depression, set to a dynamite soundtrack, Struggler is, as the title suggests, a musical take on that journey through the other side, through the struggle.
Though the collection is inspired by a close friend’s own difficult journey, Owusu’s unique handle of punk and funk makes this a thrilling ride. It’s a sonic theme park, recorded in the US and Australia, with a cast of top producers. Struggler captures a sound that could be from anywhere, anytime, and deserves the widest of audiences.
Stream: Genesis Owusu, Struggler
This review features in the June 2023 issue of Rolling Stone AU/NZ. If you’re eager to get your hands on it, then now is the time to sign up for a subscription.
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