The music of Josiah Wise lives at the intersection of sacred and profane. Since his 2016 debut EP, blisters, the Baltimore-born singer-songwriter has mastered his mode of gospel music for sinners—midnight music that shimmers like an oil slick, made to soundtrack the megachurch/nightclub hybrid that exists in his wildest fantasies. His third album, GRIP, begins in the club: a Black queer love story shown through a cool, controlled, voyeuristic lens. Picture a strobe-lit close-up of a hand placed on a waist, a bead of sweat trembling on a shoulder, as serpent coos over the four-on-the-floor thump of intro “Damn Gloves”: “Hold you closer, closer than those damn gloves/Kiss you longer, longer than an opera.” (He’s joined by frequent collaborator and fellow hedonist Ty Dolla $ign, along with the Cape Town soul singer Yanga YaYa.) Night softens into dawn, and lust blossoms into love over the course of GRIP’s 10 tracks, but the freakiness remains a constant: Over the kind of gently cascading beat Darkchild might’ve made for Brandy in the late ’90s, serpent delivers the lustiest line of early 2024: “If God is a god at all, he lives in your grip.”

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