Mykki Blanco is back with a new song, and it features a rather unexpected guest. The alternative rapper has teamed up with R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe for the vibey single “Family Ties,” which you can listen to below.
Michael Stipe’s contribution isn’t the only interesting thing about Blanco’s latest release. “Family Ties” is the first song where I sonically found my voice and I mean that in a very literal way. It’s the first song in my entire career where I am singing, I don’t rap,” Blanco explained in a statement. “I wrote this song about the relationship between my ex-boyfriend and his father that has had bouts of mental illness. When the person you love is going through a situation that you can’t alter in any way, or help or be active in trying to correct it not only hurts them but it hurts you. I think the core meaning of this song is compassion in the face of helplessness.”
Blanco’s singing voice receive the seal of approval from Stipe, who said in a statement, “Mykki has a gorgeous voice, resolute and strong. I’m thrilled to have worked on ‘Family Ties’ — I love how the song turned out.”
Blanco explained the origins of her collaboration with Stipe in a statement. “I have been a fan of Michael Stipe and R.E.M forever,” Blanco said. “I had his email and ya know it’s one of those things when you acquire a living musical icon’s email and you think, ‘I have this now. but am I ever going to use it? Should I ever use it?’ Falty DL and I took a shot at the moon – I sent him the song because it felt as if in some alternate universe Michael Stipe had already created it. His willingness to perform and be a part of this meant the world to me. I hope to just keep making good art and attracting meaningful circumstances and people that make this life and making music worthwhile. This on so many levels was one of those moments.”
In the song, Blanco sings atop buzzing bass and swirling guitar performed by producer Falty DL. In a statement, the producer explained his desire to move away from sampling other songs in favor of recording the real thing. With real instrumentation, “Family Ties” sounds more like a moody post punk song than a hip-hop number. Naturally, then, Stipe’s vocals fit right in. Check out the music video for “Family Ties” below.
The single follows last summer’s mini-LP Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep, which featured the Jamila Woods and Jay Cue collaboration “Love Me” and the Kari Faux duet “Summer Fling.” In November, Consequence sat down with Stipe and R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills to discuss the 25th anniversary of the band’s album New Adventures in Hi-Fi.