Kim Gordon has linked up with Bikini Kill’s Erica Dawn Lyle and musician/filmmaker Vice Cooler for a scathing rebuke of a growing crisis in land and real estate, “Debt Collector.” The track will appear on Lyle and Cooler’s upcoming album, Land Trust: Benefit for North East Farmers of Color, out June 3.
“Debt Collector,” with its crashing drums and gnarled, industrial synths, packs a brutal instrumental punch that pairs perfectly with Gordon’s quintessential disaffected vocal delivery. “You’re not welcome/To the gated community,” Gordon says, “We bought the block/But you gotta have cash/If you want one/You gotta bring your soul/You gotta pay the down the money.”
In a statement, Gordon explained that her lyrics were inspired by the “financialization” of housing, whereby large companies and investment firms scoop up massive shares of real estate to trade it as a speculative asset while ignoring the needs of tenants. “I’m a bit obsessed with what’s happening with these big financial corporations like BlackRock and Blackstone buying up houses, becoming landlords,” Gordon said. “They pay far beyond a house’s value, putting home ownership even out of the range of the middle class — much less working class.”
(Following the publication of this article, a representative for BlackRock sent Rolling Stone a statement disputing Gordon’s quote, saying,
“BlackRock does not buy single-family houses… BlackRock is an active investor in the U.S. real estate market, but we are not among the institutional investors buying single-family houses.)
The “Debt Collector” video, which Cooler directed, helps visualize aspects of this phenomenon, juxtaposing security cameras and tall gates with residences that are being evicted and new condo developments. “Kim created a very powerful lyrical statement on real estate and land, and the companies that have been purchasing (and laundering) properties at the expense of low-income and working class housing,” Cooler said. “Her lyrics really resonated with me because I’ve been displaced from three homes as an adult and I hold a constant anxiety that I won’t be able to obtain stable housing at all — let alone be able to afford a home.”
“Debt Collector” is the second offering from Lyle and Cooler’s Land Trust, following “Mirrorball,” which features Lyle’s Bikini Kill bandmate Kathleen Hanna. The collection will feature additional contributions from the Linda Lindas, the Raincoats, Alice Bag, Kelley Deal, and more.
This story was update 5/20/22 at 12:13 p.m. with a statement from BlackRock.