Pay No Mind
In January, Gov. Janet Mills began cleaning up the mess she inherited by removing one of her predecessor’s most prominent eyesores: a sign, slapped underneath another sign, on I-95, that read, “OPEN FOR BUSINESS.” Anyone who dreaded the sight of this monument to cynicism and stupidity should check out the latest single from the fantastic Portland rapper Sarah Violette. “Open for Business” doesn’t call out LePage specifically, but it absolutely nails the mentality of a man who thought a naked plea for money had a nice ring to it. “Hopin’ for riches, so addictive / You put your soul on hold, now there’s holes up in it,” Violette spits over a moody cluster of compressed piano notes, taking an ominous vibe and making it slap. She pulls this trick all over this five-track EP, her fiery syncopation igniting atmospheres that rely on lonely, echoing loops. On the title track, she shrugs off her demons with an offhand politeness that’s colder than most flexes: “If you don’t like it then pay no mind.” She calls out liars of all stripes on “Pompous,” as a slithering harpsichord prophesizes their doom. And on the closing “Burn Down,” Violette embraces the nihilism of our times to chilling effect. “Insecure people ruling the world / Watch it all burn down,” she repeats. But she does this with such irrepressible energy that one can’t help but feel a small, stubborn flame of hope. After all, 2019 has already given us the demise of the “OPEN FOR BUSINESS” sign. And it’s given us this album.