How Rom-Coms and Black Queer Nightlife Inspired Serpentwithfeet’s New Album

The album is not necessarily autobiographical; in fact it serves as a companion piece to Heart of Brick, a jukebox musical starring him as the lead that he co-wrote with author and poet Donte Collins. Both the play and album were written in tandem, giving the tracks a cinematic and slightly voyeuristic tone. Serpent is quick to qualify that “the album is not a narrative”; instead, the tracks blend his experiences with those of fictional characters, adding in a splash of people-watching to boot. “I love watching people flirt with others,” he notes. The record was also influenced by some of his favorite romantic comedies, like The Best Man, Brown Sugar, and Love Jone. “I love seeing romance and love on screen,” he gushes.

In many ways GRIP can be seen as Serpentwithfeet’s foray into that rom-com world, constructing a fantasy with him perched in the director’s chair. On “1 to 10” he describes a group of queer friends teasing a reformed “player” who has turned his back on having a “new boo every week,” instead trading in his “sheets for a duvet,” as he puts it. “I’m not even singing it from my perspective,” he tells me. “I’m thinking about a group of friends that you’ve seen in TV shows and movies.” Similarly, on “Hummin,’” he describes hooking up with a mechanic who does more than fix his car, “I’m speculating about the proverbial hot mechanic that we’ve seen on TV,” he explains. “What does the hot mechanic look like in Serpentwithfeet’s world?,” he asks rhetorically.

What is most clear on GRIP is Serpent’s love of love itself. “I’m a Cancer sun,” he explains. “I think that even a one-night stand should be heart-filled.” He mixes spirituality, eroticism, and emotional vulnerability with confident ease, finding deeper meaning even in casual hook-ups. “I want to write a rapturous, celebratory poem whether [a relationship] is four years or four weeks,” he offers. It’s that transformative way of thinking about love that GRIP offers to the listener, with songs that make you feel like you’re seeing the sky for the very first time.

“I don’t want to hold all the gifts to myself,” he tells me. “I want to share.”

GRIP is available now from Secretly Canadian.

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