Young Fathers – “Toy”

Although we first understood Scottish trio Young Fathers as a hip-hop group of sorts, most of their new album Cocoa Sugar forgoes rap music in any conventional sense. Hell, it forgoes music in any conventional sense. The singles we’ve heard so far — the dystopian electronic gospel ballad “Lord” and the avant-pop propulsion unit “In My View” — suggest a band evolving at such a rapid clip that they may one day outpace language’s ability to keep up with the sounds they’re concocting.

Not so “Toy.” Oh, it’s very much of a piece with the rest of Cocoa Sugar, skittering across genre boundaries toward some unknown future. But unlike everything else they’ve shared from the album so far, it more clearly demonstrates Young Fathers’ hip-hop roots. Which is to say: They rap on it, and they rap on it well. Even that rapping, though, shifts shape and tone along the way, morphing into singsong over the course of the phrase: “You paid your debt/ You’re playing dead/ There’s no respect/ You’re just a silly little toy/ Silly little boy.”

Eventually it builds into a full-on gang-vocal anthem, a schoolyard chant powered by frenetic rhythms and moody minor chords, sophisticated in execution but almost primal in its body-moving powers. Like everything else on the album, I love it. Do yourself a favor and listen up.

Cocoa Sugar is out 3/9 via Ninja Tune. Pre-order it here.