Genesis Owusu Takes DC9 on a Self-Love Journey

Review written by Shray Dewan

How do you keep smiling when the world is collapsing in on you? Selling out DC9, Genesis Owusu performed his debut album Smiling with No Teeth, which tackles his struggles with depression and racism while simultaneously attempting to smile through the pain.

To start the show, Owusu ran onto the stage to a screaming crowd with bandages wrapped around his face, mirroring his album art. Holding a banner that read “Beware: Black Dogs,” two background dancers accompanied the Ghanaian-Australian rapper and singer. The banner introduced one of the main metaphors of the album: a black dog representing depression that relentlessly chases you down. 

Owusu divided his setlist into three main segments: depression, racism, and healing. In the first section, the music was lyrically haunting but sonically upbeat and danceable. With songs like “The Other Black Dog” and “Gold Chains,” Owusu managed to have the crowd jumping up and down despite somber lyrics about depression enveloping your entire mindset yet having to fake a positive appearance. Between the more harrowing songs, Owusu utilized light—or rather darkness—extremely well as DC9 would submerge into moments of complete darkness where no one could see the person in front of them, let alone Owusu. 

In the transition between the depression and racism sections, Owusu hauntingly expressed that when one black dog goes, another takes its place. Through powerful songs such as “I Don’t See Colour” and “Whip Cracker,” the rapper flexes his lyrical prowess and shares his experiences of racism through powerful anthems. Between the songs, Owusu fueled a back-and-forth chant with the crowd about rejecting everyday racism, creating an atmosphere of inclusion and positivity.

The third section continued on this message while wonderfully tying back to the first section. The segment featured songs with messages about healing and coping with struggles, such as “Don’t Need You” and “No Looking Back.” Together, Owusu and the crowd exorcized their inner black dogs, leaving everyone feeling renewed and loved. 

Through a night to remember, Genesis Owusu immensely demonstrated his vulnerability and depth while also making the crowd move to his infectious production and entrancing voice. Owusu took the crowd on a journey unlike any other, allowing the audience to reckon with their personal black dogs, but also building a healing spiritual climax. 

Check out Genesis Owusu’s music here.

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