Nigerian-Tamil author, Akwaeke Emezi, surprised fans and readers with the release of a rap single.

December last year, they announced that they would be taking a break from book publishing in 2023. The announcement seemed surprising at the time, given Emezi’s track record as a prolific writer. But the release of the rap single seems to provide an answer to their hiatus.

The rap single is titled “Yung Dead Thing” and subtitled “A Missy Elliott Freestyle.” The main beat on the track is a sample of the iconic beat from Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On.”

They released a video for the track, as well. Emezi is sporting gold teeth, bold eyeliner, heavy gold earrings and rings, glamorous cornrows in their hair, and an all-black outfit. The jewelry certainly celebrates their Tamil roots.

“Yung Dead Thing” is a catchy track. Thematically, it touches on issues that have always been important to Emezi’s art and philosophy of life. For example, the phrase “dead thing” is a reference to their being an Ogbanje—spirit being in Igbo Cosmology. The phrase is recurrent in their social media captions and can also be found in their book Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir: “They are never really here—if you are a thing that was born to die, you are a dead thing even when you live.”

The track also celebrates Emezi’s life, drawing attention to their pursuit of success, power, and the audacity to pursue their goals, no matter how grand they might be.

Releasing a rap single is an unexpected but exciting move for someone with seven award winning books in multiple genres and an 8th book in the works. But Emezi’s career path has been anything but conventional. The rap release speaks to their expansive creative abilities and openness to exploring new things and taking on new challenges.

Kudos to Emezi!