As serpentwithfeet, Josiah Wise has spent the past few years putting an avant-garde spin on gospel-inflected R&B, turning it into operatic pagan experimental pop that stands as truly singular in today’s musical landscape. He’s been making big moves lately, serving as opening act for Björk’s Cornucopia shows and Rosalía’s first North American tour. When I saw him perform at Basillica Soundscape, I was struck by how strongly the influence of classically churchy R&B shined through in his performance. And yet it’s still shocking that today he’s releasing a song with motherfucking Ty Dolla $ign, the walking embodiment of today’s R&B mainstream.
Dolla $ign is truly the king of guest features, and lately he’s been popping up in increasingly high-profile contexts: Drake’s Scorpion, Kanye’s Wyoming albums, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s collaborative LP, Post Malone’s #1 hit “Psycho.” His own upcoming project’s lead single “Purple Emoji” pairs him with J. Cole. Yet he hasn’t stopped lending his voice to less established artists.
Thus, there he is slicing across the crystalline chamber-pop ballad “Receipts,” serpentwithfeet’s first new song since last year’s full-length debut Soil. In harmonies that remind me of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Wise’s multi-tracked voice poses the question, “Who taught you how to love me?” After his fluttering first verse comes a second verse starring Dolla $ign, whose husky, soulful voice sounds as good here as it has anywhere. It’s one of those songs that sounds small and feels humongous, two powerhouse singers showing off their powers in a bold and refreshing context.
Wise shares some background on how it came to be:
I began writing “Receipts” when I first moved to Los Angeles last summer. I was and still am mystified by the city — the mountains, the men, the hummingbirds. I played an early demo for Ty Dolla $ign and he asked to join me on the track. This song carries a lot of weight for me because it’s a snapshot of two brothers rhapsodizing about unforeseen romance. Ty is a huge part of my LA story so “Receipts” feels like a perfect document.
Hear “Receipts” below.
08/30 – Salisbury, UK @ End of the Road Festival
09/01 – Dublin, IE @ Electric Picnic
09/03 – London, UK @ Earth
09/07-09/08 – Berlin, DE @ Lollapalooza Berlin