Review Summary: A unique breed of industrial hip-hop and hardcore rap.
I’m not going to waste yours or my time pretending you’d be vaguely interested in who Too Birds are, so lets just accept you’re most definitely coming in blind. All I probably need to say is this is rap and you can probably fill in the blanks and assume with the title name and album artwork that this is some dark depressive evil soundcloud-esque inspired rap, and you’d be half right.
What you won’t expect though is just how abrasive Too Birds can be when it comes to their louder, aggressive tendencies. Rather than loud and aggressive in a hyper-energetic sense like that of the Soundcloud rappers, Too Birds’ come off sad and depressive in a way you’d expect from an atmospheric black-metal record.
This is a hybrid of rap, screams, growls and even howling - but mostly rap. The production is loud, distorted, mechanical and completely warbled and lo-fi at times. As far as content, it’s exactly what you should expect with the title name ‘I’m Going to Die.’
Lyrics often muse over depression to an unhealthy degree, constantly scrutinising poor self-habits, drug abuse, discontents with life and sometimes attempting to rationalise a purpose for this self-destructive lifestyle. Instrumentals are just as suffocating as the contents as well, like Must Be Wretched which is just a fat, unintelligible sub bass note.
Between the two rappers Teether and Realname and the features (look them up because you won’t know them either), there’s just enough to excuse the often monotone nature of the instrumentals. There’s a real nice ying-yang between both Teether and Realname as a collaborative. Teether with a deeper, raspy voice and often slow-going, sometimes lazy quality flows is equally met by Realname’s often fast, hyper-active, biting bars that also often brings any semblance of a hook to the tracks - which is by the way a real achilles heal to the whole project.
I’m not sure if ‘rest, rest’ was legitimately meant to be a hook or what, but it just sounds lazy and so un-compelling. Frankly though, who expects hooks on a project about anxiety and depressed anecdotes - who knows. It really wouldn’t be a problem either except that some of these instrumentals seriously could have done with WAY more diversity and progression through-out the run times of the tracks. Take Loudest or the mentioned Rest, Rest in particular that both inevitably end up dragging on for too long as if the instrumentals themselves weren’t a trudge to begin with due to the often slow crawl paced beats that tend to embody these cleaner, more straight-forward tracks.
However, what makes this project truly worth listening to is the meld of some truly bold influences of screams, growls and general metal-hardcore genre attributed vocals. Take the end of Loudest which features the howling I mentioned earlier and some guttural growls all completely distorted out of existence. Even better though is Sneak, my personal favourite that features some brutal hardcore screams as some sort of un-intelligible chorus and sick, SICK inter-weaving synth sequencing, or the closer A Seed (To Place in the Garden & Grow) which is the closest to straight up hyper-aggressive Soundcloud rap, only that the hyper-depressed and sad nature of Too Birds’ music does make this track completely their own.
I however will confess, as this was released in 2017, I never really cared about this project initially and I especially didn’t like it on first listen. The project still sometimes is a slog to get through (despite being an 8-track LP), and opening track Who Does Ill has never justified its time-length ever to me and simply becomes skip-able. But I just can’t deny the bold genre-mashing that Too Birds have created as another breed towards the hardcore-rap sound.
I’m not going to defend Too Birds from obvious comparisons and influences such as Gambit which always takes me back to Doris era Earl Sweatshirt, or the obvious comparison to a certain industrial hiphop/experimental group (only with production however) as well as the Soundcloud rap movement as a whole. But Too Birds definitely do it with a sense of purpose and craft that others in their field often lack. This project isn’t ideas thrown at a wall, this is obviously a tailored listening experience even if it’s not without its flaws.
My score would realistically sit 3.2 - some great elements to this record but also some unavoidable trudge-through listening.
Here’s a direct link to ‘I’m Going to Die’: