Where do I even start with this Russian doll of a quasi concept album from trans artist Medusa (Buffalo, NY) entitled Boy of the Year? There are countless entry points and angles to this project that focuses primarily on being trans and how it’s reflected within society and holding up a middle finger to a lot of that. This is an album that jumps genres, sometimes even within the same song but at the same time maintains a unifying, boundary pushing vibe throughout. There are lots of artists I could draw comparisons to, and yet not one of them would hit on the nose. Alas, I shall try in my humblest words to capture the essence of this album.
Three songs on this album are over seven minutes! Who the fuck does that in pop anymore? Prince got away with it and lemme tell ya, I’m letting Medusa get away with it too cause they’re fucking bomb ass tracks. “Rhapsody of a Reluctant Birth” has a soft, expansive opening with keys and samples that give you the sense it’s going to be a dreamy track. It is not; dropping the real heavy on you about a minute in. Medusa has the laid back flow that some rappers spend careers seeking out, slick rhymes over massive electronic pulses reminding me at times of Peaches and at other moments Grimes. “Apocalypschitz Continuity (Pirate King)” gets fucking creepy and weird, slight Die Antwoord vibes but saying that is doing a disservice to the track because it goes way beyond comparisons. It could take months to dissect the lyrical content of this track. Each successive listen prompts you to hang your soul onto a new line.
As mentioned, many of the tracks focus on what it is to be trans, taking a stand for your body and your identity and I wanna give particular attention to “ET.” Legitimately my childhood hero and obsession, Medusa uses the character to shed some light on societal judgements towards trans people, “lady know you’re rocked because you don’t know what you see, but can you please stop looking at me like I’m ET.” The track leans on that hook and it’s infectious. It also samples audio from the movie; this is straight up hitting me with all the feels!
I was not expecting to get hit with heaviness on Boy of the Year, but I should have known better than to expect the unexpected by the midway point of the album. “I’m Gd Thx” is some straight up fucking Death Grips level intensity; a Chaotic, sludgey mashup of guitar noise and sampled beats that rocks your brain into a near state of comatose. I was most certainly not ready for the chill r&b vibes of “King Me,” or the other worldly tripiness of “Longlong.” Are you starting to get the point? Boy of the Year never gets comfortable; every time you think you’ve got a handle on it Medusa throws you a curve ball. It is the most inventive, game changing album I’ve heard in a long fucking time, somewhere within the same realm as Billie Eilish, and we all know how well she’s been doing as of late. To me this is equally as enjoyable.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*Edited by Dominic Abate