Psalm One Editor’s Picks

As Psalm One transitions into her Hologram Kizzie persona and continues to push toward a new innovative soundscapes, we took some time to pick a few of our favorite tracks from Psalm’s vast back catalogue of albums, mixtapes, and guest features. 

1. “A Girl Named You” – Bio: Chemistry II: Esters and Essays (Birthwrite Records, 2004)

Two standout tracks from Psalm One’s debut release for Birthwrite Records—a record label managed by Chicago-area producer, Overflo—cemented Psalm’s reputation as a supremely talented lyricist. The opening track, “A Girl Named You” establishes the biographical tone hinted at in the album’s title. Rhyming over an irresistibly bubbly bassline, Psalm initially relates the story of a ten-year-old girl struggling to find a place for spiritual feeling within the organized religious structures of church life. Yet despite the difficulty and complexity of the religious themes, the lyrics never come off as preachy, as Psalm flows melodically over soulful, laid-back claps.

2. “Macaroni and Cheese” – Death of a Frequent Flyer (Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2006)

The sixth track from Psalm One’s first album for Rhymesayers remains one of her most popular releases. The song’s long afterlife has been helped by a 2013 video made at Nazareth Academy on the invitation of a student filmmaker, DJ Rybski, who reached out to Psalm over Twitter. Its intro includes a dedication to Deborah’s Place, the largest women’s homeless shelter in the city of Chicago, where Psalm has served as a volunteer. The video’s story picked up a fair amount of press from the Tribune, the Reader and other publications, but independent of the hype the song itself remains a classic. Psalm doesn’t just turn one of the strangest brags in hip-hop (“make a mean bowl of Macaroni and Cheese”)  into an anthemic hook, she also complements the line with a searing electric guitar riff finely chopped up by Overflo and filled with shout-outs to three sides of the city. This a song only Psalm could make.

3. CunninLynguists ft. Psalm One & Blu – “The Morning” (Self-released, 2014)

Anthony Fantano (from music review vlog “The Needle Drop”) rightfully called out this track for being one of the standouts from the critically acclaimed hip-hop crew, The Cunninglinguists’ latest mixtape. The verse is one of the rawest sonic kiss-off letters to an ex-lover ever recorded. Responding to the call of the ghostly vocal sample whispering “hear I’m standing naked,” Psalm jumps right into the track with the ad-lib “me too” and transforms the song’s initial drawling, narcotized vibe into a full-speed attack that both lashes  out at Psalm’s rhetorical partner—the  one she claims, “I told I loved / more than music / I was lying”—and critiques her own “angry lover lecture.” With lines like “you calm me with your presence / when you leave me I get reckless / so I’m retching / so hopefully I’m throwing up all these catch-22’s / how could you win when I’m losing me, fool” a careful listener is left in awe not only of Psalm’s metaphorical skill but also her ability to portray an extremely emotional state that fluctuates between love and hate.

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