Review Summary: Viper the Rapper: A Cutting Edge Revolutionary
Memoirs from a Soldier (Chapter 1)
23 days. 23 days since this crazy great war broke out. At first I tried to ignore it, I tried to pretend it didn’t exist despite the fiery chaos and burning riots breaking out around me. I kept my head in the sand, trying to focus on my farming job to ease myself. On one warm summer day I was working on the farm, and then I saw it. A couple black dots penetrating the cloudless sky. Before I knew it, the horrifying mechanical scream of the Dark Army’s neg bombers pierced my ears. Once I saw the carnage these filthy goddamn terrors caused to my home, I knew I had to enlist and fight on the behalf of the Biggle Boys. I had no idea what I was in for though. After rigorous training in meme warfare, neg bombing defense tactics, and flame war strategies, I became not only a tougher solider but a better man. My momma would be proud to see me, I know she would have been proud (rip momma). I expected my first mission to be on the front lines but Lieutenant General LeddSledd must have seen something in me because I was assigned to Zeta Ops. And that, precisely, is why I found myself trudging around in the sweltering jungles of Guyana.The heat beat down on our battalion like a drum and rations were starting to wear thin. The mosquitos, my god the mosquitoes. They enveloped us like a blanket, our morale was dropping. “Sarge with all due respect what are we looking for again”, one of my peers yells. Before he can say anything more, the sound of a loud hiss cuts us off. “Be careful private”, I reply. “The jungle is home to many vipers”. But not just any Viper…..”
Let’s be real 80% of those reading this review already know who Viper is. For the 20% who clicked on this because it was a Bigglestein review, let’s just say Viper is an interesting character in the music world. The artist from El Dorado has released at least 1000 albums in his 23 year career (it’s hard to keep track exactly how much, considering some of Viper’s “albums” are remixes, 1 track shitposts, exclusive to specific platforms, and a small portion is borderline stolen content). Viper’s appeal comes from his extremely blunt, aggressive, and low-budget marketing tactics (for instance, some of his bigger albums are named “U Are an Idiot”, “Fuck tha World It Ain't Real I Bend tha Spoon wit My Mind 2 “ and who can forget classics like “You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack”). Casual observers may dismiss him as meme of the day garbage bullshit, lumping him in with other lolcows like Corey Feldman and Doug Walker AKA The Nostalgia Critic. However this is a completely incorrect assessment. The Haram Clarke Hustler, Viper’s 2008 release (it says 2010 on Sputnik, but this is incorrect it came out in May of 2008) is probably the best example of why Viper is more than just some stupid low-budget outsider.
Consider the May 2008 hip hop scene. Alicia Keys was on top of the world with her R&B hit “Like You’ll Never See Me Again”. The hype for Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III was going nuclear as the lead single “Lollipop” charted number one. Fat Joe & 50 Cent start beefin. Kanye West got booed at the Bonnaroo festival and a couple of days later, he responded with an all-caps rant post on his blog KanyeUniverseCity (goes to show some things never change). The reason why I bring this up is because this is the era which Viper released The Haram Clarke Hustler (or HCH). With HCH, Viper draws upon inspirations like fellow Houston rapper DJ Screw to craft a slow, almost chopped & screwed feel. Viper unintentionally creates the foundations of what would later become vaporwave and cloud rap. The instrumentals on tracks like “This ***** Will Kill Ya”, and “I Ball or Die” are extremely well composed and intricately produced for a “meme”. “You Wanna See Me Dead Cause Of My Hops” is probably Viper’s best song of all time. The murky, ethereal, lo-fi production is extremely ahead of its time, almost like Viper got his hands on a leaked early demo of Tyler the Creator’s IGOR from 2019. While Viper’s ridiculous autotuned vocals are the weak part of the album, his vocal performance here is unexpectedly fluid and relaxing. Even if the lyrical matter is a bit silly (accusing a gang of wanting to kill him because Viper’s basketball skills are too good), the charm and replay value this track has cannot be understated. Tracks like these are what make Viper so unusually great. The relaxing, chilled out production and sincere, genuinely funny lyrics combine with the cutting edge ideas to create a legitimate project with artistic value. While some of the tracks do drag on for a bit, you can clearly understand Viper's vision here. This unusual combination allows for a project like HCH to shed its meme status and stand out as its own.
Hiram Clarke Hustler may be a meme, but it’s certainly not a joke. Critics will claim this album is a blatant ripoff of Kanye West’s genre challenging release 808’s & Heartbreak, but the incredible fact of the matter is that HCH came out three months before 808’s & Heartbreak was even recorded. This just goes to show how cutting edge and creative a project like HCH truly is. I’m not going to be some funny jackass contrarian that says Viper is the GOAT and 5 all his projects. Viper’s sleepy, toothless vocal performance, intentional or unintentional, is by far the weak link of this record and honestly takes HCH down a solid point. However Viper deserves more respect than he gets right now. The dude is dismissed by many as “black Corey Feldman”. Shut the fuck up Viper has more talent in his pinky finger that Corey Feldman has ever had in his entire life. Corey Feldman made Angelic 2 the Core which is the musical equivalent of Sinternet’s unfunny beastiality jokes. Compare that to a project like HCH which actually has artistic merit and has contributed in some way to the music industry. The wide-ranging influence this record has had can be seen in projects like Negative Gemini’s Bad Baby EP, Yung Lean’s Unknown Death 2002, Bones’ PaidProgramming, SpaceGhostPurp's Mysterious Phonk, and so much more. With 1000 albums of course Viper is going to have some misses. That being said Hiram Clarke Hustler is something special. Viper brings a sincere charm and crafts cutting edge instrumentals that are worth a serious spin 3.5/5.