As the 1980s bled into the 1990s, Neneh Cherry and the members of Massive Attack developed a symbiotic working relationship as each began to hybridize hip-hop with wildly creative new results. It even resulted in them sharing a producer, Cameron “Booga Bear” McVey, who would later marry Cherry. Almost 30 years later, the musicians themselves meet again in the studio and not only feel like they haven’t lost a step, but recall one act’s past musical peaks. With help on the boards from Four Tet, Cherry and Massive Attack’s 3D come together for “Kong,” a new standalone song that follows her 2015 cut with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, “He, She, Me.”
The “Kong” video directed by Jenn Nkiru (Kamasi Washington, Beyonce & Jay-Z) finds Cherry singing and posing in archaic and industrial settings, covered in everything from white paint splatters to Afrocentric high fashion. Her lyrics reference international relations and refugee crises, her own polyglot background informing her frustration. But it’s the rolling, dubbed-out drum patterns matched up with her longing vocals that feel like they come from the Mezzanine album in an alternate universe. It’s a dramatic reminder of Massive Attack’s past, and a thrilling look at what Neneh Cherry might give us in the future.
Adam Blyweiss is associate editor of Treble. A graphic designer and design teacher by trade, Adam has written about music since his 1990s college days and been published at MXDWN and e|i magazine. Based in Philadelphia, Adam has also DJ’d for terrestrial and streaming radio from WXPN and WKDU.