Formed out of a hard-hitting bass part that could straight up suffocate someone if given any more volume than it’s already sporting in this all-new single, King Swigg’s new single “New Dance” is definitely the perfect amalgamation of brawny funk and contemporary hip-hop swagger I didn’t even know I wanted to hear this fall. Grinding out a beat in the studio isn’t difficult for someone who has the kind of skillset King Swigg has; that much has been obvious in the EPs Free at Last and Whole Lotta Gold Shit, but in this latest release he doesn’t seem particularly obsessed with in-house theatrics. There’s a surprising amount of efficiency to the construction of this song, and although it’s got a heavy backend that has strength beyond measure, scarcely is there a moment in which the nimble thread of lyrics created by my man isn’t dominating the center spotlight here. He’s reimagining hard funk for a trap generation that has become increasingly difficult to please – perhaps rightly so, given the depth of hip-hop culture and the advent of Soundcloud players in the past three years – and for what I want in a new single, this is definitely a smooth listen on all counts. 

The bass here is, obviously, the biggest beast in the room, but not so much of a monolith that we aren’t able to focus on what the vocal is packing from beginning to end. King Swigg uses the verses to contextualize the rather enticing energy of the beat and its low-end melodic counterpart very carefully, never utilizing one specific lyric as a means of tying together the narrative but instead his tone.

The levels on the instrumentation are popping off muscularity to make space for the cathartic release we’re getting out of the words, and even if they hadn’t been as vicious a slew of poeticisms, it’s the delivery that’s making them sound venomous and spot-on compelling when they need to be. The hook sinks into this groove as opposed to becoming defined by it midway through the song, which is a common element I’ve been coming across in experimental hip-hop and the genre’s growing alternative strain. Whether he’s going out of his way to do so or not, “New Dance” at times feels like King Swigg’s response to a bitter mainstream struggling to regain control over artists sporting newfound independence in 2020. 

Chest-beating in appropriate moments but constantly charismatic in all departments, I think this track might be the best we’ve heard from this artist so far. There have been a lot of intriguing players in the hip-hop underground coming out of the woodwork in 2020, particularly given how many songwriters have been finding some fame amid a pandemic-induced studio surge, but what King Swigg is introducing here doesn’t necessarily fit in with any popular movement at the moment. It doesn’t reject the surrealism of its alternative counterparts, but from where I’m sitting this is a rapper who owes as much to the pop aesthetics of his forerunners as he does the left-field experimentations of his peers – thus making him a favorable listen among fans of both. 

Garth Thomas