Review Summary: Avant-garde hip-hop?
Baltimore native Cubbiebear
released a little album called The Rape
, and I think it's fair to say that this disc is something David Lynch
would release if he were a hip-hop artist.
Far from being a simple "stutter-step plus some stuff" production, The Rape
twists up and back through multiple tracks, deliberate overproduction, and sound errors to produce a dense, convoluted mess that you can't help but want to experience.
Let's first talk about the MC, one Mr. Bear. He's got a battle-rap style. So much, in fact, he seems to be in a perpetual battle with the very style that birthed him: He's got a chip on his shoulder about modern hip-hop culture, and takes it to an extreme that I don't think I've heard before. You're not going to find many catchy hooks here, maybe "Contra", instead it's a serpentine progressive series of venom-laced prose intended to destroy anything and everyone. At times, you almost want him to stop for a second and try to rap about something else, but his verbal gymnastics are pretty damn impressive regardless of subject. All the lines come out effortless, coated with Teflon, in a non-stop machinegun delivery that's as seemingly random as the music itself. And as for the music...
I'm not sure I know how to describe the music. It's a slapdash of grinding production noise, samples, beats with no particular root. The only thing that tends to be a constant in the songs are the BPM's, and even then that's not guaranteed ("Dirt"). Lyrics and beats end up joining together as post-production bleeps, blurs, and stutters. You hear samples distorted, scratched on a turntable, sped up and slowed down. The wall between instrumentation and vocalization that's pretty much the standard in just about every music genre is bent, broken, and laughed at. The post work starts to get a bit overwhelming at parts, and it's easy to describe it as excessive, though it's interesting nonetheless. It's the musical equivalent to Aesop Rock's
lyrics when compared to other MC's language.
exists in a strange world: On the razors edge of being an avant-garde hip hop act that rails against hip hop is a truly original situation. There aren't any real head-bobbers on this album, and from several listens I've come to realize that's the point. It's a mish-mash of ideas and dark emotions, all keeping to within a central theme of protest and hate that's as immediate and powerful as it is unique.
As a modern rap album, The Rape
fails in just about every category. As a sonic experiment, it's a fascinating listen, and one I can't recommend enough.
In Short: Headf*ck beats, battle rap lyrics, and a seething hatred for commercial hip hop culture as a whole.