Nickodemus Offers a Thrilling Tribute to Nina Simone on 'Obeah Woman'

Nickodemus, Kiko Navarro, and Cole Williams reimagine a Nina Simone deep cut on their new collaboration “Obeah Woman,” whipping up an afro-house storm of steadily increasing intensity.

Simone closed her 1974 album It Is Finished with “Obeah Woman,” a take on Exuma. It’s a slow-burn — “Gotta take my time gettin’ this one together,” she sings. She makes it worth the wait, pushing the song towards the superhuman, stringing together images of world-swallowing power: “I’m the Obeah woman, above pain/I can eat thunder and drink the rain.”

It’s hard to image a more potent version of this, but Navarro ramps up the rhythmic attack on the “Afroterraneo Remix,” using cross-currents of percussion like squadrons of strafing fighter planes. Periodically he also floods “Obeah Woman” with bass, pushing it towards something engulfing and ecstatic. And Williams picks several of Simone’s lines to riff on with steely fervor: “I’m the Obeah woman from beneath the sea/To get to Satan, baby, you gotta pass through me.”

The single, released earlier this year, contains three different remixes all inspired by “Obeah Woman.” The breadth and vitality of the singer’s catalog ensures that she is rarely out of the public consciousness — R&B veteran Ledisi is also readying a Simone tribute album, out July 23.

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