August 10, 2014

EXPERIMENTAL HIP-HOP TRIFECTA: Clipping / Death Grips / frateleNORD

As you might be aware by now, TZEEEAC has become a filthy hipster-ridden hole on the internet, where the mainstream is pretty much shunned in favor of the underground, the obscure, the hidden and (at times) the occult. We have specific, yet all-encompassing tastes - as long as they fall within the limits of the weird and the heavy. Electronic music? Sure, but it has to be about futuristic robots beheading each other with laser gauntlets in a neon-lit post-apocalyptic urban nightmare. Classic rock? Maybe, but is it sung by a Japanese band whose members can barely speak any English yet insist on writing lyrics in the same language? Industrial? All for it, as long as it's produced using actual industrial machinery (looks like I forgot to write about Author&Punisher and GOG). Pop music? Sounds great, but it has to be weird and noisy, with lyrics that read like Juno's personal diary. 

Hip hop ain't much different - actually, no, it has to be for me to even touch it. There's nothing especially interesting to me about regular gangsta rap or shitty MTV glossy rap. I don't even like Kanye West. No, my favorite hip-hop acts are weird, cutting edge artists that have dedicated their lives to reinventing an entire genre, smashing its tropes and making it fascinating again. Below are 3 of 2014's hip-hop albums which are mandatory listens. Incidentally, these artists are also able to bring Marco and I together for awkward white guy hip-hop dancing, much to the collective embarrassment of anyone around us. TURN DAT SHIT UP.

Clipping have merged two genres which I never imagined would come together: hip-hop and noise. Good news is, they're both expertly done. Under the appearance of a smooth, technically flawless delivery, this dude is spitting out lyrics about chopping hands off, sitting on the porch of your ghetto place shooting motherfuckers for looking at your daughter the wrong way and dancing around in a night club until you're thrown out on the curb. The rapping is then laid out on a nail bed of harsh, abrasive noise, sounds of shattering glass, crashing cars, crumbling bricks and drilling machines. No, I mean it, these dudes have manages to construct hip-hop beats out of random noises and it's the most badass thing ever. They even have one song where the MC raps over a digital alarm clock. You know the noise that has plagued your childhood mornings and possibly even your shitty adulthood? These guys have taken it, subdued it and made it their bitch. They have curb-stomped hip-hop, cut it up and now they're wearing its bloody skin and parading around the hood. Either hide forever or come out in submission, because hip-hop can never be the same again. IT'S CLIPPING BITCH.

Death Grips are the de facto terrorists of the hip-hop scene, blowing up its conventions and mutating it into something gruesome and fascinating to hear. They're big favorites of the TZEEEAC crew since they started out and we were surprised, just like everyone else, when Death Grips dropped another unannounced album earlier this year. I wasn't surprised, though, to find out it's even more fucked up and pushes even more boundaries than their previous efforts. Niggas on the moon is their most schizophrenic album to date. MC Ride's lyrics are as abstract as I've come to expect and he sounds like he's legit mentally ill (in a good way?), and the beats he lays his vocal tracks over are crude concoctions of little bits of noise, static, primitive drum licks and chopped up glitch samples of Bjork's vocals. Yes, that Bjork. She said she's excited that Death Grips decided to use her voice throughout this album and so should you. This is Death Grips at their most creative and they have made sure they will be remembered as such - they have decided to call it quits while they're in their prime. After a short musical career full of publicity stunts, deliberately missing concerts and just generally fucking with their fans every which way, Death Grips disbanding with no warning and literally announcing it via a note on a dirty napkin is so part of their modus operandi that I'm not even upset or disappointed. I was in on it the whole time. I do what my people would.

Finally, here’s one from our own Romanian cesspool, the enigmatic bros known as frateleNORD. They started off as a pretty tame experimental hip-hop duo, albeit with a very recognizable, stream-of-consciousness type lyrical approach. These days, I don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. Their latest album is 33 tracks of hermetic, backstreet philosopher, drug-induced gangsta rap that will throw you off the loop. Simple but effective beats lay the groundwork for Cleg’s abstract, often surreal lyrics that will be forever lost on me. I have no idea what he’s talking about and I’m fine with that. The music is so damn enjoyable, perfectly fit for walking around the city at night, while taxis whiz by you, that I really don’t care that I might not “get it”. For all I know, there is nothing more beneath the surface, so why try digging up meanings that might not even be there? !

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