The past year has not been good for dancefloors, but it’s been an incredible year for dance music: Mining the rich histories of drum’n’bass, bitch and Baltimore house, juke, hardcore, and gabba, beat culture has been pushing so far and fast that listeners might be forgiven for not staying caught up. Berlin’s LSDXOXO is having a moment, too. A pivotal figure in the post-millennial NYC GHE20G0TH1K scene, which proved that rave, electroclash, and goth culture had both Black roots and futures, Philadelphia native LSDXOXO spent the last decade putting out a series of incendiary mixtapes (2013’s Softcore, 2015’s Sacanagem, 2018’s Body Mods, 2020’s Waiting 2 Exhale), each as brief and enticing as a well-cut jockstrap. In 2018, he left New York for Berlin to throw his own party, Floorgasm. Meanwhile, productions for VTSS and Shygirl let others try on his aesthetic, a flamboyant blend of high-tempo, high-camp techno, low-end bass, and pitch-shifted voices and samples. XL Recordings came calling with an invite to join up-and-comers including John FM and Overmono in its new House Bag series, and LSDXOXO replied with Dedicated 2 Disrespect. A foursome of queer bangers, the EP foregrounds his own voice for the first time, with a ribald poise that makes one wonder why it took him so long.
Opener “The Devil” conjures a playground as infernal as Lil Nas X’s “Montero” but without all guilt. “I’ll make the Devil fuck me good,” LSDXOXO crows. “Sell my soul and my body.” His infectious delivery makes it clear the Devil would be lucky to have him; the rest of us would be lucky to shake our asses to the beat, a tough ride on the line between sleaze and wooze reminiscent of Green Velvet in his prime. “Baby” is a peak-time floor-filler that starts out sweet and ends up sour as its fluttering acid claps, bell tones, and vocal clucks and coos harden into a baroque demand for the return of a lover, or maybe a certain kind of high, or maybe the dancefloor itself—which, at the right time, “Baby” would destroy. It’s barely four minutes long, with kicks that sound so far in the red they’re positively black. It’s a lot, an almost-too-much that leaves you wanting more.
“Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!” Divine once preached in Pink Flamingos, and lead single “Sick Bitch” could be her campaign anthem. The platform? The abject as erotic power. “I’m a sick bitch and I like freak sex,” LSDXOXO vows. “If you wanna test the limits of my gag reflex… you gotta make it hurt if you wanna make it squirt.” LSDXOXO knows that bragging about one’sability to find the pleasure in pain is, by now, populism—just ask anyone from the Stooges to Rihanna—and that the only thing that should be shocking anymore is the expectation we should care if someone’s shocked by our sex lives. With a scuzzy beat that’s equal parts Peaches and Sweet Pussy Pauline and a flow worthy of Lil’ Kim, “Sick Bitch” is the song of 2021’s slutty summer.
Closer “Mutant Exotic” takes a victory lap around a deep-house party, wearing a loop of Lyn Collins’ deathless “Think About It” like a laurel wreath and chanting “Mutant exotic/Homoerotic.” If Dedicated 2 Disrespect began with him seducing the Devil, it ends with him ascending to divinity. As horns toot and little hisses of percussion contract into hi-hats and expand into snares, as piano and organ chords warm the ground, LSDXOXO testifies. “I’m sending out my signal hoping that you understand it: Maybe I’m a goddess.” Maybe? He’s definitely a star.
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