ABOVE: JAMAICAN QUEENS. IMAGE COURTESY OF ANDY MILLER
Detroit band Jamaican Queens have emerged as an extraordinarily unique force within the past year—a ragtag compilation of heavy hip-hop beats, pop hooks, and brutally disturbing lyrics. The video for the first single from the band’s debut album, Wormfood, “Kids Get Away,” featured a narrative portraying the stalking and assault of a diner waitress, cinematically rendered and deeply unsettling.
The premise of the band’s second single, “Caitlin,” which we’re premiering above, is not much cheerier. “[‘Caitlin’] is actually a very selfish song,” explains frontman Ryan Spencer. “I wrote it as a Secret Santa gift to my friend. She had had a terrible year, and right before the Secret Santa thing, her grandmother was brutally murdered. The lyrics are about how I could never possibly relate to her recent tragedy, but I still didn’t want her to move away.”
What’s most intriguing about “Caitlin,” and Jamaican Queens in general, is that the intoxicating nature of the music can elevate such grimness. “Caitlin” is a finger-tapping, danceable track, and the droning density of the drum, strings, and twinkling layers of piano are hypnotic, even as Spencer sings lyrics like, “I’ll be swinging by my neck / from atop your balcony / and I’ll be eaten by your pets / they love the taste of blood.” Like the city they hail from, Jamaican Queens are a little rough—but it’s the marriage of such intense ruthlessness with moments of hopeful, uplifting positivity that have us completely rapt.
WORMFOOD IS OUT NOW. JAMAICAN QUEENS ARE PLAYING DATES THROUGHOUT SXSW; FOR THOSE DATES AND MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT THE BAND’S FACEBOOK PAGE.