This will be one of the most impactful Hip-Hop albums of the year. I shit you not. Do you want to know what today’s zeitgeist is? It’s this. Right fucking here. So listen.
Picture some toothy smiled motherfucker coming up to you all prim and proper handing you a half-assed casserole at a funeral. They ask you, “So, how are you doing?” You want to scream at them, push them out a window, stab them in the leg with a butter knife while gently licking their cheek. Instead, you stare at them and say, “Fine … everything’s fine.” Picture training your entire life for a single shot at a 10 second run in the Olympics. You make it there but trip at the starting line. A reporter comes up to you afterwards and asks, “So, how are you feeling?” You want to rip off your clothing and rampage through the crowd. You want to take the starter gun, shove it into your mouth, and pull the trigger on live TV. You want to take the Olympic torch and burn down the entire fucking stadium with everyone trapped inside. Instead, you turn to the reporter and say, “It’s disappointing, but it’s okay. There’s always next time. It’s fine.” Picture walking into work after a hard night’s sleep. You feel you’re not living up to your full potential and time slides between your fingers like grains of sand. You feel like people in power don’t give a shit about anyone else but themselves and this will never change. The more you think about it, the more you get this nagging headache. A co-worker walks up to you and asks, “How’re you doing?” You respond, “Fine, everything’s fine.”
This is the theme of the album. And not only is the theme relative, introspective, and vital to this time in history it’s also executed with exquisite precision. This is two forefront artists putting everything they’ve got on the line. Not only is the production dope as hell but the lyrics flow with an unbelievable smoothness and meaning. Each song is a layer cake of these types of lyrics but here are a couple for a taste:
Fuckin’ right, flame on
Phoenix crush ya whole groove, raid on
Get 86’d, radon
This is the intro of one half of this duo called Jean Grae. First of all, Jean Grae’s homophone “Jean Grey” is a character from X-Men called the Phoenix that often uses fire as a superpower. Getting 86’d means getting cut. And the 86th element on the periodic table is fucking radon. Within half a second these verses are so jam-packed with poeticism your high school English teacher just shit themselves. Check out this rhyming scheme:
I got my rhymebooks in my backpack
In a fat sack just to contact and set you back
Like it was fall black and all that
Is this real? “But hey,” you might say, “it’s poetic as fuck but where’s the meat? What’s the fucking meaning?” Glad you asked your vulgar question, kind person. This album is dense, as in Christmas cake dense, with meaning. Example:
“Er’body wanna be a brand, I follow the barcode, I write bars for the scam
And get bread, countin’ carbs is the plan.”
These lines are so packed with meaning, poeticism, and commentary that it’s gonna take some time and unpacking. Hold your breath cause we’re going in.:
“Er’body want to be a brand”—This is about people, and also rappers, presenting themselves more as a perfect product than a human. Picture Facebook pictures versus people in real life.
“I follow the barcode”—Products in grocery stores have bar codes for identification.
“I write bars”— The word “bar” acts as a homonym here and has multiple meanings. Bar = the lines in a barcode. Bar = bars of music.
“For the scam”— The scam here is rap itself. Also, scam is a word that very closely resembles “scan” as in someone scanning a barcode at the check out in a grocery store.
“And get bread”—Bread has often been used as a symbol of wealth and money in rap and music.
“Countin’ carbs in the plan”—Most people that count carbs are dieting. But in this line, it refers to counting your money because of the bread symbol previously.
These few lines not only make these references and pictures, or speak about the capitalist structure of rap music and people presenting themselves as something they are not for profit, but it also puts the picture in your mind of going to the grocery store, buying bread, and taking it through the checkout. Sweet holy fuck that is some solid fucking writing right there.
I could go on and on about this record but there’s no point. It’s an absolutely wonderful experience that you can listen to over and over and still find it dripping with meaning. This is an absolute essential to any audiophile’s collection. It’s poetry. It’s art. It’s motherfucking gorgeous. Listen to this bitch or miss out on something fucking beautiful.