This time of pandemic has been life-altering. That was especially true in the early stages of 2020 when most people wouldn't be seen outside without a mask covering the lower half of their faces. Though the gesture was meant to protect us and others (and did the job quite well), it did take away one part of human expression that many took for granted. Robert Glasper and Masego team together to use that as a metaphor for the times we are in with their new track "All Masks."
"All Masks" is heavy in mood thanks to the contemplative chords and slowed flute sample that acts as the song's musical base. From there, Masego and Robert get into the nuances of the time, speaking about missing smiles and the slight meaning gleaned from facial expressions.
"All masks, no smiles / All flash, now pow," Robert sings with a crestfallen air on the chorus. "Why do I see / All masks, no smiles / It's just all in your eyes." Masego, meanwhile, waxes on the dire feeling of the time as he describes how everyone looked like they were going to rob a bank.
"The song is simple and speaks to the fact that because of COVID smiles were taken away," Robert Glasper said in a statement about the song. "The very simple thing of looking at someone and smiling or smirking was gone. Who knew that at some point in the world smiles could be taken away. That's how so many relationships were started because of a smile or smirk. A simple smile was a gift that would brighten someone's day and would change someone's day and those small little gestures were wiped away because we all had to wear masks. So I wrote that in the height of when people were wearing masks."
"All Masks" didn't make the cut for Black Radio III earlier this year, but the song will appear on the deluxe edition of the album set to drop this fall. Give the latest collaboration between Robert Glasper and Masego a spin when you press play below.