All shuddering bass, eclectic sonics and playful, avant-punk intensity, ‘Nothing To Declare’ by 700 Bliss – aka DJ Haram and Moor Mother – is a blistering statement of intent, elevating electronic music and hip hop to thrilling new heights

There’s a lot that hits you the first time that you listen to ‘Nothing To Declare’, the debut album from 700 Bliss. The collaborative project of DJ Haram (Zubeyda Muzeyyen) and Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa) seethes with punk energy and raw emotion, powered by lashings of bone-rattling, subsonic bass, Muzeyyen’s expansive distorted beats and Ayewa’s prophetic, razor-sharp vocals. A dizzying and intensely unique take on noise rap that delves boldly into the hitherto unexplored reaches of hip hop, jazz, sound collage and forward-thinking club music, ‘Nothing To Declare’ is one of the most potent long-players you’re likely to hear this year.

Bristling with candid observations and urgent political interrogations, it’s by turns vicious, defiant and triumphant. But amid the dark, the light shines in. Listen carefully, and it’s clear both performers are as playful as they are purposeful in their approach to music-making. To get to the core of 700 Bliss, the clue is in the name, where elation is a vital driving compulsion.

“One of the motivations with the album was conveying this effortless joy and carefree feeling,” says Muzeyyen. “Even though there’s passion and rage, we’re having a lot of fun – and fun was a priority with this project.”

Muzeyyen is at her studio apartment in New York, where she’s lived since 2020. Her cat Ricky clamours for attention on the desk beside her as she describes the band’s essence.

“Moor Mother is my favourite poet, and I’m… I don’t know – a poet who gets mistaken for a stand-up comedian,” she laughs. “We both decided we wanted a name with a number and a word, like Three 6 Mafia, which is so cool. And Bliss stands for ‘bitches living in society’s shit’. It doesn’t formally denote that, but it can. It’s a reference to this punk band who were really popular –  they’re friends of ours and were part of the scene back in the day when Camae and I met. They were called Gloss, which stands for ‘girls living outside of society’s shit’. And Camae and I were just, ‘Nah, we’re in the trenches! We are living in this. We’re not living outside of nothing. We are constantly kicking and screaming and rebelling’. And that’s Bliss.”

The two met when they were both living in Philadelphia, which Ayewa describes as having “an amazing DIY music scene and some of the best writers in the world”. They connected at an Afro-futurist event organised by Rasheedah Phillips, an American artist, community activist, author and lawyer who, along with Ayewa, created the literary and artistic collective Black Quantum Futurism.

“We knew of each other and were already friends on Facebook,” says Muzeyyen. “I knew who Moor Mother was, but after seeing her perform I was like, ‘That was so cool!’. And then we became real-life friends.”

Ayewa is a prolific vocalist, poet, musician and activist, having released several acclaimed experimental solo albums as Moor Mother, including her 2016 debut ‘Fetish Bones’ and 2019’s masterful ‘Analog Fluids Of Sonic Black Holes’, as well as collaborating with artists such as hip hop duo Armand Hammer, rapper Pink Siifu and progressive London jazz outfit Sons Of Kemet. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches composition at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. 

When Ayewa pops up on the video call a couple of minutes late, she apologises for needing to duck back out again almost immediately.

“Oh my goodness, I’m very sorry,” she exclaims. “I’m just finishing up a mentoring session with my students, so I’ll chime in a little later. I’m really sweet – we’re really sweet – and it’s not usually like this.”

She laughs. We don’t doubt her.


PHOTO: ISHA DIPIKA WALIA

Muzeyyen and Ayewa began working together in 2014, releasing their celebrated debut EP ‘Spa 700’ in 2018. With tracks like the incendiary ‘Cosmic Slop’, it provided the first evidence of their irrefutable sonic chemistry. ‘Nothing To Declare’ might have followed sooner if not for their busy respective schedules and touring commitments. In fact, arranging this interview proves to be tricky due to their bulging work diaries and time differences. 

As a partnership, the pair are an unstoppable force. DJ and producer Muzeyyen’s Middle Eastern-inflected electronic soundscapes frequently adopt the rugged rhythms of the club music of New Jersey, where she grew up. As Moor Mother, Ayewa is a lyrical force to be reckoned with, and her tremendous vocal ability, especially at full scream, is frequently described by the music press with words like “terrifying”. Yet in conversation both she and Muzeyyen are warm, open and easygoing.

Their cross-country divide and the need to balance different personal projects inevitably impact the 700 Bliss writing process, but as Muzeyyen explains, it has helped her develop confidence as a rapper and lyricist.

“There were three tracks that Camae had to write a second verse for,” she reveals. “And eventually, I wrote them because I was like, ‘Well, she’s been encouraging me to write and perform on our tracks, and she’s not around to write a second verse, so I’m going to get these feelings off my chest’. I’m not the kind of person that will be like, ‘Just throw yourself in there and you’ll be great’. If I throw myself in there, I won’t be great, and I know I’ll be hella in my head. I’ve written all my life and never performed vocals. But it flowed out.”

“I enjoy the fact we are friends first and we make space for each other to be,” affirms Ayewa. “Making music with DJ Haram is really easy and sweet.”

The resulting tracks, ‘Bless Grips’, ‘No More Kings’ and ‘Nothing To Declare’, all reveal Muzeyyen as a formidable singer in her own right. Amid the pounding kick drum of the title track, she is the perfect foil for Ayewa’s flow, coming out punching with lines such as “You’re always about your crisis / Are you a narcissist but righteous” before asserting smoothly, “I’ve never been a victim”. How did having the space to develop as a writer feel?

“The music industry is interesting,” she muses. “It works in a way that’s totally opposite to the way I work. I feel that being in music, you gotta be ready for the opportunity right now. You don’t know, Kanye could hit you up and fly you out to his ranch in Wyoming, and then you’re Arca, bitch.”

She laughs.


PHOTO: ISHA DIPIKA WALIA

“That’s cool, and I want to always be ready to say yes to an opportunity that’s bigger than even my dreams, because sometimes it straight-up happens, you know what I mean? But I also really appreciate being able to slowly work my way into something and feel more comfortable.”

So what does that kind of success mean – what are your biggest dreams?

“Speaking for myself, I would like to be known for what I do – the music I make and the style of my DJing,” says Muzeyyen. “I don’t know that many people out there who are on the same wavelength as me, who do what I do. I don’t go and make art trying to be the most original or the most unique. I try to challenge myself and make work that feels true.

“I would like to be known as someone who has done a lot and had an impact in this overlap of noise, hip hop, club, experimental electronic music and Middle Eastern feel. Meeting that goal means treating all the projects I’ve made as part of my life’s work.”

In terms of the influences that have filtered into ‘Nothing To Declare’, Ayewa cites Wu-Tang Clan and J Dilla’s 2006 album ‘Donuts’ as inspirations. On the “distinctly experimental” rap of ‘No More Kings’, she rolls out what she describes as one of the Iines she’s most proud of.

“I feel like bowling green / I feel like TCU / A whole lot of madmen coming after you / Handcuffed to your own mattress / Handcuffed to the world spinning backwards.”

On the irresistibly danceable, uptempo ‘Anthology’, meanwhile, she pays tribute to Katherine Dunham, as she intones “the matriarch of black dance” over racing sub-bass. In addition to having one of the most successful dance careers of the 20th century, Dunham was also a choreographer, author, educator, anthropologist and social activist.

“She is a legend and everyone should learn more about her,” says Ayewa. “She taught everyone from Eartha Kitt to James Dean. Everyone wanted to study dance with her.”

For Muzeyyen, inspiration comes more in the form of an overall approach, with a focus on developing her own distinct aural palette. 

“I really try to think more about what influenced the music I like, versus how to make my stuff sound like someone I admire,” she explains. “I want my work to be more in conversation with my peers. I made a lot of the tracks using the Moog DFAM and I was trying to get somewhere with my sound design on it – that’s a lot of the sludgy, rolling bass element.

“Lyrically, honestly, I had to say I’m really inspired by Moor Mother. At the same time, I’m also very much talking my shit in a light-hearted way. And I feel, whenever you talk shit, that you’re actually just airing your worst fears. There’s the vanity and the cocky thing, too. I love all of the pop-rap girls, people like Lil’ Kim, Meg [Megan Thee Stallion], Cardi B, Nicki [Minaj]… everybody. Besides Moor Mother, these are probably the lyricists I pay attention to the most.”


With titles like ‘Easyjet’, ‘Spirit Airlines’ and ‘Nothing To Declare’, you’d be forgiven for thinking that 700 Bliss have a penchant for taking to the skies.

“I love flying but sometimes I get emo thinking about everything,” laughs Ayewa.

“While we were working on the album, Camae had this concept of a global passport idea,” continues Muzeyyen. “That is definitely what is tied in aesthetically by the album artwork. I think it’s also reflected in how our collaborators are all friends we’ve met on tour, or through being part of this super-local but also very global network of like-minded artists.”

As for the album title, Muzeyyen explains that it’s less about customs control and more an assertive statement of intent.

“I don’t like to fight in order to be heard,” she says. “And a lot of times, when you have to fight to be heard, people are not really going to listen to you anyway. So I was in this place where I felt, ‘Alright, I’m going to say whatever’. Truth is truth, regardless of who speaks it.”

‘Easyjet’ and ‘Spirit Airlines’ offer two of the album’s briefest but funniest moments. The tracks function as skits where Ayewa and Muzeyyen mercilessly roast themselves.

“I don’t like 700 Bliss,” scoffs Ayewa on ‘Easyjet’. “They’re always talking about the end of the world / Motherfucker this, motherfucker that / It’s just so dark”, before Muzeyyen jumps in with, “Literally, who wants to hear that shit?”. So how did these pieces come about?

“Camae sent me both of those as voice notes,” laughs Muzeyyen. “She just went on this rant, and I cut it up and put my dialogue in to make it sound more like a phone call. When she first sent them to me without explanation, I cracked up. I was like, ‘Oh, you’re roasting me now?’. Damn, OK. But true!

“The best thing about working with Camae is our friendship and how much it generates in terms of creative ideas. And our ability to communicate, and our energy when we’re together, either performing or working on stuff – I feel like that’s the strongest thing we have. She is really like a noise-head, jazz-head, experimental artist. I don’t know too many other rappers I can send these crazy soundscapes to and they’ll be like, ‘That’s the beat’. Most of them would be like, ‘Where is the beat?’.”


Little wonder, then, with this kindred spirit connection, that 700 Bliss have turned out such an immersive, innovative debut album. Amid the rage, intensity and compelling calls to action, they admit there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful.

“I love all the music I’m making and the poems I’m writing,” says Ayewa. “And for the future, just to grow and learn, speak truth and spread love.”

“I feel as though there isn’t really another option,” agrees Muzeyyen. “And this is something I’ve definitely picked up from Camae over the years of our friendship. She’s like, ‘You know, the only option is moving on, moving forward, moving up, moving beyond’. For me, I want to live. I want to bring life into this world. There’s a lot I want to bring into this world.”

In the loud and powerful world of ‘Nothing To Declare’, ignorance isn’t bliss, but truth, love and knowledge certainly are.

‘Nothing To Declare’ is out now Hyperdub

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