The project opens with “Meanwhile,” featuring Jelani Blackman with Barrington Levy, which is described in a release as an homage to the famous Notting Hill Carnival, which would have taken place this weekend, but was canceled due to the pandemic. Gorillaz actually made their first live outing at the 2000 Carnival, performing “Clint Eastwood” at the Middle Row Records Soundsystem in Meanwhile Gardens.
The other two tracks on Meanwhile aim to capture the spirit of Carnival as well, with “Jimmy Jimmy” featuring West London MC AJ Tracey, while “Déjà Vu” boasts Jamaica-born, London-based dancehall artist Alicaì Harley.
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Earlier this month, Gorillaz debuted all three Meanwhile tracks at one of their two special shows at London’s O2 Arena. The concert — which was free for National Health Service workers and their families — also featured cameos from the Cure’s Robert Smith, New Order’s Peter Hook, and De La Soul’s “Posdunos.”
Gorillaz spent all of 2020 dropping songs, which later appeared on their collection, Song Machine Season One: Strange Timez. The project featured a slew of collaborators including Beck, Schoolboy Q, St. Vincent, Elton John, Slowthai, and Octavian.