Last May, the INDY wrote about the debut EP by XOXOK, the atmospheric soul project that Keenan Jenkins created while earning a doctorate in psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Now we’re excited for you to hear the premiere of new single “Right On,” a gorgeous, chilling production that’s a sure shot for local best-of-the-year lists.
On July 5, 2016, Jenkins defended his dissertation. The next day, a police officer in Minnesota shot and killed Philando Castile. “Right On” is Jenkins’s keen-eyed, self-reflective response to the inescapable specter of police violence. “Just ‘cause I’ve got a PhD don’t mean they won’t,” he sings, developing his theme with immaculate vocal control and implacable narrative pressure.
The arrangement is deep (the production is by Gabriel Reynolds), with a thick, silky bass line churning up dark, sparkling clouds of jazz chords to rival King Krule’s. Jenkins has an exquisitely aching, arcing voice. He builds the song to a stunning crescendo with a kind of uncanny cool, and the effect is entirely entrancing:
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