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Brittney Parks (Sudan Archives) has not been missing lately. In the spring, she delivered us two masterful R&B tracks: March’s “Home Maker” and last month’s “Selfish Soul.” Both are joyful in their own right — the former an ode to domestic bliss and the latter a celebration of the power and versatility of hair. Today, she returns with an offering that’s similar in theme but sonically worlds away from the previous two tracks.
“NBPQ (Topless),” the de facto title track of her newly teased sophomore album Natural Brown Prom Queen — forthcoming via Stones Throw at a date to be named later — begins with a bouzouki. Simon Hessman (Simon on the Moon) sets the tone with an infectious lick on the Greek stringed instrument alongside pummeling percussion from four musicians: actor/producer Ben Dickey, Orlando Higginbottom (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs), Hessman, and Parks herself. Parks enters vocally 15 seconds in, singing a tightly wound melody which mirrors that of Hessman’s bouzouki. “Sometimes I think that if I was light skinned / Then I would get into all the parties,” she begins, never one to mince words.
She goes on to make several stylistic pivots — from an enthusiastically rapped verse about her tumultuous adolescence in Cincinnati to a triumphantly sung pop bridge to a breathless refrain that earns the track its “(Topless)” designation: “I just wanna have my titties out, titties out, titties out.” But despite the chameleonic nature of “NBPQ,” Parks returns frequently and emphatically to the song’s central message: “I’m not average.” Truer words are rarely spoken.
Listen to “NBPQ (Topless)” and watch the trailer for Natural Brown Prom Queen below.