“I’ve Been Overly Amicable, Altered By Drugs, and Even Blinded By Love. But a Bitch Ain’t Dumb”: ‘Her Word is Bond’ by Cristalle Bowen/Psalm One Reviewed.

You can make a lot of easy assumptions about people based on their feelings toward Psalm One.

Not in the sense of whether they like her or not – ain’t nobody not liking Psalm One! It’s psychologically impossible – more in the sense that they’re likely to give one of two answers.

Either they’ll say “Ermagod! I love her so much! She’s been one of the most notable underground hip-hop acts of the 21st century! More than two decades of critically adored music while being one of the genre’s most central voices on the experiences of a queer person’s struggles with the industry/world’s patriarchy! Her Twitter bio describes her as a ‘National Hip-Hop Treasure’ and, folks, where’s the lie?? Most importantly though, the woman drops banger after banger after banger after banger!”

Or they’ll say “…


And if you’re in that latter category…

Christ, I want so hard to just call you an imbecile right now, but I’m trying to grow as a person and not make so many snap judgements about criminally dense people. If you’ve not heard of Psalm One I guess I’ll have to accept that it’s not your fault. When I think of Psalm One, I think of two things: firstly, I think of her as one of the most accomplished musical artists of the last couple of decades and how insane it is that someone who consistently creates such infectious and commercially viable hip hop isn’t more widely known. However, I know enough to realise that this is likely down to the second thing I think about.

Psalm One’s mistreatment at the hands of the legendary Rhymesayers record label – as she detailed in a 2020 Medium article – as their first (and for the longest time only) female artist left her unable to properly release her own music for the best part of a decade. Her experience starkly laid out how ill prepared (and uninterested) the music industry is for accommodating for identity’s outside the expected standard, and how little importance in general is placed on workers’ wellbeing. I can at least relate hugely to working in an industry and for a company with an often glaring lack of human resources, and I’m a white cishet male! So for Cristalle as a black, gender nonconforming bisexual in the intensely macho world of 90s hip-hop?? As gender theorist Chandra Talpade Mohanty once said: “Fugget abou’dit”. Her brave decision to take a stand against how the patriarchy is upheld in the hip-hop industry was an extremely noble act, but it also ended up with her immediately gaining a reputation as a ‘whistleblower’ and unlikely to find any other major record label take the risk on someone likely to expose their own shitty practices.

Considering that Bowen’s autobiography (memoir? I would honestly love it if a clever person explained the difference ) is subtitled ‘Navigating Hip-Hop and Relationships in a Culture of Misogyny’, you’d imagine that the Rhymesayers situation – and the increased attention that the Medium article brought – would be central to the book’s text. Which it… kinda… is… Just perhaps not as explicitly as I was perhaps thinking. The most striking thing about her Minneapolis based record label’s mishandling of her talents is that it’s less ‘mis’ and more completely nonehandling. It’s amazing how little the record label actually bothered to ever contribute to the Psalm One story.

In 2005, Cristalle was understandably excited about being the first female artist to sign with one of the hottest labels in hip-hop, even if she is cautious to truly celebrate her achievement:

How I got the RSE [Rhymesayers Entertainment] offer was probably – and this is my opinion – due to a combination of my buzz, gender and proximity to Minneapolis… I think his offer was a reaction. It was quite a chess move, one that I am still dealing with to this day. The possibility that I was signed only so they could boast having a female rapper is real.

She would release her debut studio album ‘The Death of a Frequent Flyer‘ in 2006, a mixtape later that year, and… that’s pretty much it as far as her relationship with Rhymesayers goes. After much back slapping and self congratulation over their signing of ‘The Leading Lady of Rhymesayers‘ – after Bowen was confident enough to quit a well paid job in a laboratory earned with her degree in chemistry – her label literally never released or promoted any other music from Psalm One for the rest of career. Most of ‘Her Word is Bond’ is about Cristalle attempting to survive as a supposed ‘rapper’ with no way of releasing music. And it details how her most toxic relationships weren’t always with her label.

Psalm is also quick to always accept that she is far from blameless for the things she’s gone through. She accepts that she was slow to capitalise on the buzz of her official debut release (“Being at the studio was becoming more of a party than a place where we actually got work done. New artists, if you’re reading this, make sure that when you start getting a little buzz, you’re well rounded in your approach to staying relevant… I could churn out raps as fast as the fastest writer, so I wasn’t particularly concerned with my nest musical offering”), as she realised that she had a real appreciation of fine cocaine and split with her girlfriend after she didn’t fit Cristalle’s new lifestyle (“I had picked up some lowkey alcoholism. I needed a girlfriend who was gonna let me party the way I wanted”), and anyway was finding monogamy increasingly difficult with her new fame:

Even though I currently practice polyamory, I was a serial monogamist for a very long time. I was also very careful about having sex with groupies. I was never fully into it, even though I indulged a few times – and I was afraid of sexually transmitted infections. I’m a cuddly person who likes whispering sweet nothings and raw, consensual genital play, so I guess I can be pretty picky with who I fuck. Most guys are a #MeToo moment waiting to happen at shows, and sloppy chicks can be annoying and kinda sad. Going from the fat kid at school to an awkward fetish was wildly confusing. Being Psalm One meant some people wanted to fuck me just because of that. Cristalle Bowen wasn’t too shabby, but Psalm One? They wanted to invade my bed.

Enter ‘Tania’ (a lot of names in the book aren’t real, but I will always refer to them how they’re used in the text), a Mexican lawyer who was a big fan of both rap music and cocaine – two of Cristalle’s favourite things – who would enable exactly the sort of relationship that Psalm One believed she was looking for. She even moved with Tania to San Francisco, and began the most toxic relationship of her life.

Yeah, lots of toxic relationships in this book…

Anyway, Cristalle moves to SF and discovers a genre of people who might be able to keep up with the caning lifestyle of a hot new rapper: “Lawyers can PARTY. Probably more than entertainers. And they could afford the lifestyle. Disposable income and nice outfits can get you pretty far in the party zone”. Is this also the case for immigration lawyers whose suffocating fucking ethics only allow them to work in the non profit sector? Because if not, what the fuck am I working toward? Psalm One has interesting things to say about the supposedly ‘gay-friendly’ San Francisco – “It’s awesome if you’re a thin, gay, white man. I ain’t that. And it’s not lesbian friendly. When I lived there, San Francisco had two lesbian bars and what seemed like a million gay ones” – and her and Tania fighting 24/7 (but being sure not to alert the landlord of their relationship’s volatility). But nothing to report on her actual rap career. It felt like her moment had passed, she was getting no response or communication from the label that had seemed so eager to sign her, and booking agents weren’t interested in her. Less than two years after her debut album’s release, she was going to have to get a (spit) normal job! She starts an on and off lifelong and successful (if not so much financially) side career teaching and mentoring kids, which she’s obviously very proud of, but it’s a stark illustration of how insecure a career as an artist is in the 21st century. And this was before Spotify, when artists were actually paid something for the art they produced!

I cannot overstate how expensive and therefor classist San Francisco is. Most Black people were priced out of living there by the turn of the twenty-first century and were residing in Oakland and neighbouring cities… I was already dealing with low self esteem and the sadness of not having my friends and family around for support. I wasn’t rapping. I was alone at home a lot. I needed to stay busy and stack bread. I had three jobs, making money coaching, teaching, tutoring, playing patty-cake, and giving seniors in high school real-ass pep talks when they needed them

Yeah, so Comrade Bowen makes some good strides in class consciousness overall in ‘Her Word is Bond’, recognising how much the owners of capital exploit the workers, and the importance of the workers seizing the means of production, as she does later when she starts to completely control her own music. She is also keen to point out early in the book how “Capitalism has completely taken over the subject matter” in reference to a lot of more consumerist orientated modern hip-hop. I would only mark her down points for her failure to recognise how her $75 an hour private tutoring were contributing to the wider inequality. Cristalle even argues that maybe the parents weren’t rich, just wanting to “give their kids an extra push”, refusing to accept the structure she contributes to. Even linking it to how much her own mother sacrificed for her daughter’s education fails to recognise how even Cristalle was in some ways privileged in having a mother whose work (journalism) allowed her to time to ensure her daughter had such good education. Just a small thing, but I thought it best that the Marxism Check reflected these findings.

Anyway, the insanely unhealthy relationship with Tania that Psalm One has been doing her best to drown out with substance abuse reaches a crescendo with a physical fight between a sober Cristalle and a drunk Tania so bad that much blood is poured and the police are called:

Domestic violence in a same-gender relationship is something a lot of the mainstream media doesn’t consider. We always hear about some huge guy looming over a weak sobbing woman. We see her back eye, her cuts, and her bruises. We see him seething. They always show us court cases about one person beating up another. But what about when y’all are kind of equally yoked – at least physically? How about when you’re a guy and your boyfriend is your build and you’re just pummeling each other into the ground every other day because you’re in the same weight class?

When the police show up, the drunk Tania decides the best course of action would be to run away. Psalm notes that she would have likely been shot if she tried the same thing. The actual break up didn’t officially happen until weeks later, but Psalm moved into a friend’s apartment, met a musical producer and was invigorated by the freedom to get back into music. This producer friend, Pat, actually got her back into actual paid music gigs, and introduced her to his dubstep style. She was inspired to record a whole album of dubstep and EDM (yeah, I know, I’m British so I hate that term) fueled hip-hop a long time before America as a whole would properly latch onto the genre. She sent the project into Rhymesayers. They didn’t respond for months. Then simply said no, with no notes. Psalm, baby, where is this project, we need to hear it.

Around this time, she also met Tabby at a party, “the beginning of a downward spiral that would last more than eight years”. She moved back to Chicago, and discovered that Tabby was actually married, a polite gentleman who actually picked the two of them up from the airport. Red flag? Perhaps. But we’ve got years of this left to go. Hey at least her husband was a Psalm One fan.

It was Tabby who first suggested that Psalm enter a competition run by the Chicago Public Library for local musicians to find the best ode to Chicago. Psalm One goes into great detail over how she created the song, what beat she used that a fan had sent her, what equipment she used to record the music and make the video, but never actually names the fucking song so it’s not easy to find online!! I kinda hate her for that. Maybe she’s a bit embarrassed of its low-fi quality. Ah well. I found it on the Chicago Public Library website. Your move, Bowen.

Anyway, she won that, obviously. The only real competition was this senior in high school called Chancelor (sic). Psalm praises how Chancelor was such a gracious loser, and says she still sees him from time to time and is genuinely happy for him to have managed to make some sort of career in hip-hop. No hard feelings.

Remember Rhymesayers? Yeah, still nothing. Cristalle decided that she might want to release some music for the first time in three years, but hundreds of emails to her apparent label yielded no response. She was introduced to Bandcamp (“Like iTunes but without the hassle”) and the option to release her music independently and keep most of the revenue,, making her one of the earliest adopters of the service, and an easy choice for the site’s Lifetime Achievement award. She released the awesome ‘Woman at Work‘ project by herself. Over the next few years, her desire to create art in conflict with her lack of a reliable income stream lead to her actually living, sleeping, eating, fucking in a studio space that she rented for $500 a month. Which, in the current market, actually sounds like a great deal. In between entertaining new guys seemingly in attempt to match Tabby’s infidelity (“She wasn’t the only one in this relationship who could go get dick whenever she wanted”. Big, huge, normal green flags here, no issues in this relationship) she threw herself into a new project. Inspired by 2 Chainz’s recent successful rebranding*, she wanted a clean slate and rebranded herself as ‘Hologram Kizzie’, actually accidentally Ƭ̵̬̊/’The Artist Formally Known as Prince’ing her way to total recording freedom, recorded an EP and found true artistic freedom. After more than five years being obsessed with her own label’s expectations and neglect, she found true inspiration without any record label at all. It’s amazing what a bleach blonde wig can do

(*Tity Boi. 2 Chainz’s original rap name was ‘Tity Boi‘. Now, I don’t want to criticise Cristelle too much, and I have to say that it was her who introduced me to this, but she actually says that his name used to be ‘Titty Boy’. Incorrect. It was ‘Tity Boi’ Is ‘Titty Boy’ better or worse than ‘Titi Boi’? Honestly, I don’t know, and I’ve said ‘titty/titi’ far too much in this paragraph, I’m forgetting what the word actually means. “A breast or teet“)

Psalm One was so stifling because there was this expectation of more albums from Rhymesayers. More boom bap… Hologram Kizzie could do what the fuck she wanted, when she wanted. Maybe

don’t ask me what ‘boom bap’ means

This began one of the most successful periods of Psalm’s career, as 2013’s ‘Free Hugs‘ album inspired the ‘H.U.G (Help Us Grow) Life’ local movement, including a massive interest in the distinctive merchandise. She even started learning more about how to run music production as a business: “The music business has built empires on corrupt practices, so teaching an artist about the checks and balances was rare”. Cristalle even felt confident enough to reveal to Tabby the studio that she’d been living in for the past few months. Again, keeping the place you live a secret from your partner, no problem there, this is fine. She regretted this decision: “She gentrified my shit. You read that right. I said gentrified. You know what happens when a hood gets gentrified, right? It becomes less cool and more money comes in. That’s what the fuck happened to my studio”. Tabby also managed to convince Cristalle to first let her into the backing band, and then to DJ at her shows. Then, after a few gigs, apparently “a monster was born”, as a fan asked Kitty why she didn’t rap more…

We crashed with a sex worker in Salt Lake City, and she are chili before a client which, to this day, I’m still perplexed about. Chili before sex? I stan.

Couldn’t think of a place to put this tour story, but I needed to include it. Here it is

Tabby was also keen on courting the attention of The Rapperchicks, a local rap duo consisting of Henny and Angel Davenport. Psalm One and Tabby soon join the group, and so begins the most tumultuous, most notable, most emotionally draining and yet artistically fulfilling (in some senses) period of Psalm One’s career. It’s crazy to think that, after all this drama and all this angst, all we ever got from The Rapperchicks was one (brilliant) three track EP released after the band had split.

The fact that by the time of the band’s split they were a three piece is one of the things I was (morbidly, ghoulishly perhaps) hoping would be discussed in the book. Instead, as soon as the Rapperchicks are introduced to the book, Cristalle makes one thing very clear:

[Henny], out of respect for the dead, won’t be discussed at length in this book. She died tragically a few years ago, and it was a shocking blow to the local Chi community. It shined a light on what a lot of us ignore on a regular basis, mental health issues and drug abuse. She was a tortured soul. Henny is a reflection of us all

This is, of course, completely understandable.

For there to be barely any mention of her passing?? The respect for the dead is of course understandable, and we don’t want coroner’s reports, photos from the funeral and a full obituary, but to near enough ignore this momentous event completely?? Psalm is such a talented writer of social dynamics and deeply understands the emotions and conflicts between people in any sort of relationship and how they react to all sorts of events, so to just carry on writing as if this death never happened?? We barely get Cristalle’s reaction, we don’t get any sort of analysis on how this tragedy affected the group’s dynamics or how much it contributed to the group’s implosion?? She was a “reflection of us all”?? Tell us more, Cristalle! That’s fascinating! To completely brush over the tragedy feels almost psychotic, and has the obviously unintended consequence of making it sound like the death didn’t have an effect on the rest of the band/her closest friends at all. I understand the decision to not bring further attention to a tragic situation and potentially bring more pain to grieving friends and relatives, but I don’t feel that Henny is honoured by this omission at all. Come on, Bowen, Nicky Wire has been writing nothing but songs about Richey Edwards since 1995!

In cooler news, we’re also introduced to Angel Davenport for the first time.

Angel seemed dangerous. A powder keg. Trouble. I’d heard a rumour here or there about her. Something about promiscuity that I didn’t care about one bit. People called her a slut because that was more entertaining to consider. I mean, Angel was one of the few women in the scene at the time who’d dare to wear revealing clothing. It didn’t exactly win you respect, but it did make you memorable. Luckily, she could rap extremely well. Extremely

Angel Davenport becomes the real star of the book, and going forward you can feel the love that Psalm has for her tremble through the pages and through your own veins. By the last page, you will also be in love with Angel Davenport, I promise you. One criticism I have of ‘Her Word Is Bond’ is how Psalm speaks so negatively about her former partners, and often to forgets to include any positive traits that they had that would have at one point attracted her to them. Tabby gets a particularly bad deal, she was obviously an absolutely awful girlfriend, but the lack of attempt to see and understand things from her perspective often leads statements to come off as mean. At some point, she must have felt for these past bozos the way she feels for Angel now, and I wish more of that was explored.

But we’ll come back to Tabby. Oh, we’ll come back to Tabby.

Rapperchicks were an absolutely mindblowing live act (“Four women, all different ages, all different skin tones, all different rapping styles, creating synergy and sexual energy and knocking the dicks off everyone in the room?”) but Psalm was automatically seen as the ‘manager’ of the group because of her experience and knowledge, and all she was focused on was getting a record done! But “It was like pulling teeth getting these young ladies in the studio and I was the only one […] booking shows… the more spices you add to the broth, the more you have to pay attention to the flavours”. Then, to complicate things, some unnamed guy made things messy.

Tabby was encouraging Psalm to go on dates with other people, to experiment with an open relationship. Unofficially, of course, Psalm had often been open to having a secret ‘open relationship’ in the past – “I liked having emergency dick or Netflix and Chill dick” – so she accepted the opportunity and contacted a ‘local rapper’ who had been shooting his shot on social media for several months. “A couple of dates and a couple of sexual encounters, including a handful of awkward threesomes with Tabby” later, she finds out that the guy was also fucking with Henny (“She seemed to like him, possibly even love him”). Psalm says that she stopped nailing the guy when she found out about Henny’s feelings, but but by that point Tabby had caught feelings for him. There are frustratingly vague allusions to Henny’s mental state (and the fact that she grew to hate Tabby), before the chapter ends with:

We couldn’t see it then because of ego, but Henny was really struggling with this music shit, and she was watching the group she started with Angel morph into something she wasn’t down with anymore. Not to mention sleeping with the same dude situation. It was too much for her to deal with. So, she finally checked all the way out.

Infuriating. How much do you think this situation with the ‘local rapper’ contributed to her mental state? Do you hold Tabby responsible for her death (“Tabby treated Henny like shit”)? Do you yourself feel guilty (“I also sincerely apologised to her for the sleeping-with-the-same-guy shit, and I apologised for not being a good leader when she was around”?? But the last page and a half of this chapter is the last we hear about Henny, “the Rapperchicks could still work” and so they just… do 🤷.

Despite exhilaratingly raucous live shows, they never manage to nail that studio time, and soon capitalism rears its ugly head and they are all forced to work for their existence.

I didn’t have an aversion to work; I had an aversion to boredom. I am allergic to the normalcy that robs people of their passion and excitement… That’s what I hated about “regular life£: the belief that we all have to fit into some routine, just because we have to be at this specific place eight-plus hours out of the day

Wonderfully, Tabby happened to be a food manager at the zoo. So she got the other two Rapperchicks (plus some bozo called Dutch that we’ll talk about later) jobs at the zoo. Rapperchicks at the zoo. Every book needs a section where all the characters get jobs at the zoo for a while. Rapperchicks at the zoo!

So much drama happens, but we’re eventually at a point where the Rapperchicks are sharing a house, Angel and Psalm downstairs “making the prettiest music together”, while Tabby had locked herself away upstairs, often indulging in rides on Dutch, the useless fuck boi whom Tabby was catching feelings for. Rapperchicks make a stunning appearance at South By Southwest/SXSW 2015, and Psalm One hears that Rhymesayers are hosting a showcase. Rhymesayers! Remember them?? Her record label that have barely contacted her in nine years! She had even stopped bothering to send Rhymesayers music by this point, but now she could actually just talk to the head honcho face to face! And… the guy charms her (“He told me I looked great, which I did. I was skinnier from drugs”) and mentions an upcoming Rhymesayers 20th anniversary show! He says that she should be a part of it! Psalm completely takes him at face value! And is excited about the upcoming invitation to the gig!

This is… baffling to me. I find it hard to believe that Cristalle Bowen – one of the most savvy rappers on the scene and someone with real experience of record company malpractice – would just take this guy’s word. This guy who has been avoiding you for nine years, who ignores all of your requests for music promotion, tells you something that is sure to calm your justified fury down, and you just trust him? I think this might just be a ruse in order to make it sound like the next incident had more of an effect. Her conversation with Rhymesayers’ “head honcho” was cut short because across the room, one of the label’s rappers was screaming at Tabby:

He was towering over her, getting dead in her face, shouting that she wasn’t intelligent… I couldn’t believe the rapper that was once one of my favourites was yelling at my girlfriend in the middle of a SXSW venue, in front of plenty of important people. Nobody said anything. None of these men tried to calm the big rapper down

A really gross incident, more evidence of the accepted and violent patriarchy within the industry and also of Rhymesayers’ complete disregard for abuse happening on their watch and with their talent. Only… Cristalle doesn’t quite see it that way… Or maybe she does… a bit… But she is pretty adamant who is to blame for this incident: “We were always cleaning up Tabby’s messes. I didn’t know how we were gonna clean up this one. She’d pissed off a huge artist on the label”.

Psalm’s response to the incident seems confused and confusing. At one point she’s agreeing that it was ridiculous for this rapper to lose his cool over a Tweet that Tabby had sent, and yet at the same time seems only to blame Tabby for the incident. And she does so using some… worrying… language. Tabby was apparently “happy with all that attention” that she “took the bait and made such a scene”. Psalmy, mate, dude, these are some patriarchal lenses you’re looking through. I accept that Tabby was an absolute fucking nightmare sometimes/all the time, but the complete dismissal of what Tabby herself would have been feeling about the incident, and instead the complete focus on what it means for your career makes this section particularly difficult to read.

Sigh… Did we get some good music though? Yeah we got some good music though! Psalm One released ‘P.O.L.Y (Psalm One Loves You)‘ (fucking incredible title), we get the incredible single Impatient (Just U and Us) featuring Angel Davenport, it came out just in time for that big Rhymesayers 20th anniversary show ! The one that the guy at the label assured her she’d be on! Can you see where this is going?!

This is the shittiest record label ever. And this is just them continuing to be shitty. They had treated Psalm One like dirt for a decade, if anything we should applaud their consistency. However, Cristalle doesn’t see it that way, and puts all the blame onto one particular person:

Let’s recap: Artist is invited to play on a huge anniversary show, artist’s girlfriend gets into a screaming match with one of the most influential dudes on the label, artist is uninvited.

I could never prove this. I don’t know this to be the truth. But come on.

Even if it is the case – which I don’t believe it is – dropping a female artist from the bill because their girlfriend had an argument with a famous rapper on the label is just more example of the suffocating patriarchy that I thought you were fighting against.

Then January 4th 2016 happens, and the combustible Rapperchicks finally explode, almost literally. Dutch had stumbled into Tabby’s room the night before and was sleeping off a Xanax high, Angel and Cristalle appreciated the peace that his coma like state brought to the house. Then, at around 19:30, they heard a loud bang and screaming coming from upstairs, followed by a crash. They ran upstairs and saw Dutch smashing stuff, punching walls and screaming at Tabby for apparently ruining his relationship with his real girlfriend. He turned his attention towards Psalm One, telling her what a shitty rapper she was, and how she was jealous. Cristalle blames this on Tabby, who she assumes is talking shit about her behind her back. Then, nice and casually like, he threatens to shoot Cristalle in the face. Which is when Cristalle happens to mention:

My body flooded with triggered reactions. Dutch had no idea, or maybe he did, that my father had been killed by his father in a domestic incident that left me without a dad. I grew up with varying levels of domestic violence. Walking on eggshells and having the thickest tension in your own home is now way to live

That’s… wow… That’s quite a final act bombshell. Not mentioned or even referred to anywhere else. Cristalle obviously didn’t want to dwell on it, so we shan’t either.

Psalm gives a good share of abuse back, including mentioning how Dutch’s girlfriend had liked a photo of hers on Instagram, which apparently hit Dutch deep. Then she had the smart idea of goading the bare footed and woozy Dutch outside the house for a fight, then running inside and locking him outside in the Chicago winter. However, before Dutch could make it outside, Angel jumped on him and beat the shit out of him, because she’s a fucking legend and, in Psalm’s words, “not the one to fuck around with”. Angel and Cristalle got away, Dutch absolutely trashed the house. It was heartbreaking that Tabby still chose Dutch’s side throughout this ordeal. It’s also important to note that, despite Tabby’s many – many! – personal filings, she was absolutely being emotionally abused by Dutch, and I hope she managed to get out somehow. It was probably safe to assume that The Rapperchicks were done at this point. A month after the incident, the group’s only recorded music was released.


That point in January 2016 was the rock bottom, and it really makes you appreciate the journey Psalm One takes in the end to the book to get to where she is now. She was homeless and broke at the start of that year, getting a job as an Uber driver just because it came with a free car loan. She quits all the nasty drugs, starts meditating, eating right, moves in with Angel and starts something approaching a healthy relationship. Seven years later, she is still releasing amazing records completely on her own terms (including 2019’s ‘Flight of the Wig‘, which turned out to be some sort of bizarrely late in the day ‘breakthrough’ album. It was the first time I heard her). The trilogy of albums as Big $ilky (the last remaining two of Rapperchicks) were some of the greatest hip-hop produced in the last few years. As a person, Psalm One fills me with awe.

‘Her Word is Bond’ is a brilliantly readable book that presents a fascinating look at the ramshackle life and poverty line behaviour that’s needed to make it as an artist in the capitalist hellhole of the 21st century, and the sacrifices that are needed if you ever want to create rather than consume. It’s also a book that sometimes frustrates with what it withholds, and with the massive events it chooses not to delve into I feel like we are never quite given the full emotional experience of the writer, nor the underlying reasons behind many people’s emotional decisions. There is also a creeping sense of good/bad humans, when I know Cristalle is smart enough to appreciate more nuance.

Fucking hell!! I honestly planned for this to be maybe a 2’500 word overview. I feel like I’ve deep dived Ms Bowen’s life here.

Quite a ride.

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