Backxwash Takes Home 2020 Polaris Music Prize 

Montreal- based musician Backxwash has been in the news for a while now, thanks to her album God Has Nothing to Do with This Leave Him Out of It making big waves on Bandcamp and earning the album a nomination for the 2020 Polaris Music Prize. The shortlist of nominees for the 15th annual Polaris Music Prize was full of fantastic, diverse artists, and just last month Backxwash (aka Ashanti Mutina) took home the win. Seeing Backxwash win this esteemed Canadian music award was not only exciting for diversity in Canadian popular music, (given that she is a Black, transgender, female immigrant from Zambia), but also because of her staunch, anti-music industry beliefs.

Backxwash released her winning album on Bandcamp in May of this year with minimal help from “industry insiders,” and in an interview for Exclaim! she expressed her goal of wanting to “burn down the music industry and rebuild from the ground up.” Backxwash refuses to collaborate with anyone who does not share her ideals, and she will not compromise her genuine authenticity for anyone. God Has Nothing to Do with This Leave Him Out of It is currently only available to download off of Bandcamp, because the album features numerous samples that were not cleared for her to use and profit off of through music stores and streaming services, but Backxwash has showed time and time again that she cares more about her music and the sharing of art than any industry rules. For example, if you look up God Has Nothing to Do with This Leave Him Out of It on Bandcamp, you will see that she has written “If you can’t afford send me an email or DM and I will give you a free copy :)”.

The album itself is actually pretty short, with 10 tracks coming in at around 20 minutes of total music, but it packs a powerful punch. Backxwash simply states that this album is about “my version of forgiveness and things that I need to face in order to reach my version of that,” and the albums’ various samples link directly to her experience as a Black, transgender woman in Canada today. Backxwash’s general musical style, and this album specifically, blends hip-hop music with heavy metal, and takes lots of inspiration (as well as samples) from the bands Black Sabbath and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The whole album is a fantastic, heart wrenching, pulse- pounding experience, but the last track (Redemption) in particular really drives home everything Backxwash is pulling from her heart and pouring into the music.

Backxwash does have some music available to listen to on Spotify and Apple Music (in June she released a new single  called Bad Juju), but God Has Nothing to Do with This Leave Him Out of It is not only an award winning album, but also an album for today’s marginalized people, and Backxwash is proving to be the champion Canadian music needs right now.

Christina Acton