serpentwithfeet is not only imagining, but exploring a world wherein Black love is paramount. His new album, DEACON, is “a study rather than a story,” delving into Black, gay love and the tenderness present in the best companionships, romantic or otherwise.
“I originally approached this project wanting to make something that felt very sensuous,” serpentwithfeet says. “Something a lot softer, a lot more gentle than my previous work.” While crafting the album, the singer/songwriter/producer made the deliberate decision to exclude songs about heartbreak. This was a bold act for R&B, a genre quite literally shaped by the harsh realities that the blues provide.
Though recorded between Los Angeles and London, DEACON was inspired by serpent’s move from New York City to Los Angeles. He pushed to capture the serene and tranquil aspects of his new environment in the music. Fully self-actualized and more devoted than ever to personal fulfilment, DEACON highlights his growth as a songwriter, which he credits to taking a more straightforward approach to expression. Spending time with pop songwriters and observing how they traverse language encouraged serpent to take more risks lyrically, resulting in more purity. “I wanted to make my version of a ‘grown and sexy’ album,” serpent reveals.
The album’s title takes its name from the Christian office, a figure who helps maintain order within the church and himself. While DEACON is not quite about being in that role, it is a reflection of the cool and calm energy of the deacon.
Raised by religious parents in Baltimore, serpent’s flair for theatrical themes and gospel sensibilities can be traced to the Black church, a place where the artist had his earliest experiences with glamour and the ornate. Well-executed vocal flourishes and the implementation of a quickening vibrato are just a few of the skills he picked up during his time in a Pentecostal choir. He proudly follows in the tradition of R&B artists whose gifts were helmed in the church, and he approached DEACON with an undeniable passion and reverence for the genre.
In 2016, serpent’s debut EP, blisters, introduced the world to his sensual, unboxed universe. The emotive collection made fans in fellow big-voiced, unbridled psalmist Björk and serpent’s now-frequent collaborator, Ty Dolla $ign.