Driving While Black Records affiliate JM the Poet drops “Function,” the first single from his upcoming album, Deja Vu.
When I first listened to “Function,” I was reminded of a song I used to like back in my dorky high school days, “Unbelievers” by backpack rap collective The Dean’s List. Where that song filled out its strutting beat with Hans Zimmery string flourishes, though, “Function” boils itself down to a simmer, not much more than sparse percussion, grumbling bass, and skeletal synth adornments. The instrumental’s iciness is reflected in the rapping, which approaches Pusha T levels of steely calculation and resolve; Montgomery gives thanks for his fans and collaborators while remembering the days he “Used to eat the vegetables out the can,” while JM, confronted with all manner of distractions, repeats, “I’m just trying to function,” dismissively reducing the titular word to a one-syllable exhalation of breath. Muthama contributes a brief sung outro that’s got me wondering when his album is going to drop. “Function” is a minimalist statement that proves you don’t need to be loud to be confident.