Innovative South London collective Nukuluk cast hip-hop language in fairy tale terms on new single ‘Covered in Gold’.

Their latest release combines forceful production with acerbic yet subtle lyricism and packs one hell of a punch.

Photo: The Reids | Words: Lloyd Bolton

Blasting with relentless force through three minutes of experimental hip-hop contortion, Nukuluk’s latest single ‘Covered in Gold’ is imposing and ingenious. Led by olivia’s production, its constant musical evolution wrestles with Monika’s wobbling verses, creating a piece reminiscent of the vulnerable catharsis of Danny Brown’s records.

Similar to Brown’s work, the words go on to explore of the duality of hedonistic desires and their abject obscenity. “Bullshit covered in gold / It’s still stinky covered in gold / It’s still dripping covered in gold / You’re so pretty covered in gold”. These words capture an experience of seduction, in spite of oneself, by glamorous appearances. The weight of passion and moral ambivalence is conveyed by the band’s claustrophobic fizz of synths and beats.

The group point to inspiration from “folkloric children’s stories” for the song’s subject matter. They draw on the caricature adulation of shiny riches and the quests involved in their attainment that play out through fairy tales. There is an ambiguity in the value of “Bullshit covered in gold”, valuable as a substance but abhorrently “stinky” and “dripping” nonetheless. Material standards of beauty and the long and mythic terms out of which they have been cast are thrown into the spotlight, exposed and crumpled like the sleazily appealing “panties covered in gold” mentioned later in the chorus.

Recontextualising the hip-hop trope of alternately celebrating and criticising superficial glamour in fairy tale terms is a clever evolution. It is certainly more ingenuous from a group of hip Londoners than simple mimicry of the content of a music devoted to the streets of the USA. ‘Covered in Gold’ is perhaps Nukuluk’s most striking work to date, fit for the dance floor but packed with originality in sound and subject matter.