We’re creeping up on holidays…oh wait, they’re already here. Thanksgiving was just yesterday and everyone uses the day to excuse themselves to load up on food and liquor, allowing bestial sweets to make their way past tastebuds. On this Black Friday, we trip over one another attempting to get the best deal for Christmas fun. Oh fun, fun, fun. All that as we ease into the close of another year. December won’t see many releases but then 2020 will explode into a slew of releases. I’m not there yet mentally; I’m still reeling from 2019, which has been a banner year. It’s not gone yet though. But things aren’t all monetarily driven…well, it is Record Store Day after all. Especially psyched today considering Czarface drops a new vinyl for The Odd Czar Against Us so weather permitting, I’ll be copping one of those today. Fear not, that Czarface drops digitally next week 11/6/19.
Coming in at the 25th hour is Bloodmoney Perez with a new album, About Fucking Time, and the Seattle rapper is bringing some heat here. The album, produced entirely by Messiah Musik (Elucid, billy woods, Quelle Chris), is riddled with repetition, but without becoming repetitious. Like the opening “God Hours,” both Perez and Messiah stomp this one right into the ground, never letting up. the left of center “Remember This Shit!” moves like nothing you’ve ever heard, at moments sounding like it’s heading into swampy nothingness but instead directed into wondrous oblivion. There are other tracks here that deserve our utmost attention like “Smoke Screen (feat. Cunabear),” which is beautifully hypnotic, or “SAFE,” that drags like an extended pull on a blunt without release; there’s an originality here that can’t or shouldn’t be denied.
For a second I imagined Royal Trux taking strides to make GBV moves, releasing multiple albums in one year. That’s not the case here though, as the year closes out with a collection of songs spanning the band’s career, and literally has me pondering, “Why?” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always considered myself a fan, and while this isn’t listed as a “Best of…” it’s not a bad introduction to those that may not know the band.
Quantum Entanglement (Fat Possum) is easily an explosive collection of tracks recorded by Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty. In fact, it’s Royal Trux at its pinnacle. The band bounces around through decades to give tunes their second coming. To put it lightly though, the band isn’t fucking around here, opening with “I’m Ready,” culled from ‘98s Accelerator, with drums that may have taken a backseat dynamically to the rest of the instruments’ recorded but Herrema’s vocals, the song’s melody, crunchy guitars and background harmonies are lush and noisy. But it’s “Waterpark,” off ‘99s Veterans Of Disorder, that runs thoroughly through ‘70s fiery arena rock sounding anthemic and grand.
The band Trux on with “Ray O Vac,” pulling from ‘95s Thank You. The band cleaner sound was no doubt in part to David Briggs’ production, which captured the band’s essence on the mid-tempo’d number here with Herrema’s gruff vocals complimenting Hagerty’s as they both sing in unison. The shifting gears with the drumming antics makes this worth its weight in gold. Of course, the band would throw in a song from one of my favorites, Cats and Dogs from ’93, with “The Spectre.” The band allowed the bluesy melody of the song lead the way, filling it with percussion to accentuate its vibe. While Royal Trux always holds onto a distinctive sound, by no means is it a one-trick-pony though. 2000’s “Platinum Tips” was a change of pace, much more bass-heavy than what we may be used to, as Herrema and Hagerty get down and dirty vocally. “Liar,” also taken from Accelerator, shows the band’s skill, giving more with less, allowing empty space to roam free at times.
There’s a lot more here, including songs taken from the band’s Untitled release from ’92, as well as the title track from this year’s White Stuff and again I wonder, “Why?” But it’s fine, it’ll give everyone a reason to dig back in the crates and play record after record of the band’s catalog that was pretty fucking badass. If the stars align themselves correctly, there are probably decades more to come.
Coming as a surprise, Diveyede has released a new album Dead Wait EXE, his first release since 2018’s There Is No Cure/They Will Be the Death Of Me EP. The Seattle rapper takes a bit of a different approach from his last outing, this time around opting for more of a cacophonic wall of sound to set the backdrop to the new release. The sound is streamlined throughout, produced entirely by SmokeM2D6.
First impressions may not be everything all the time with Diveyede, whose style varies at times, moving in sync with the music wherever it may take him. He opens with “Your Idols Hate You,” where his vocal melody aligns itself with the music as his words of false idols and prayer battle over one another. When “Tamagotchi,” follows, musically it picks up where the previous track left off with just four notes before the bass drops as the dark tones surround the track as Diveyede searches for some semblance of happiness. “Trap N Die,” featuring Eligh, moves tongue-in-cheek with its title and flow, countering the current flow of mainstream Hip Hop culture but both emcees would wrap their words around said counter-culture and bury it deep. They bring that underground, allowing it to stand alongside the mainstream here.
There’s a certain fascination I have here with “Castleveinia” though as Diveyede tag-teams with fellow Washington state rapper Nacho Picasso who always brings something, different, to the fold in just about everything he does. The beat follows the same timbre, dark and brooding, a bit politicized with images of death creeping in, before and after.
The imagery and feel of Dead Wait EXE is one of despair and longing with nothing left but hope for something better. There’s clarity but there are barriers that won’t allow peace. Physical, but also of mind and of soul. “An Ode to The Depths” battles with an unrequited love it seems, with no closure in sight. He duets on “The Hive Mind” with Jaeda which continues where “An Ode…” seems to have left off and yes, the anguish still remains within the track. The album is able to stress and tug at emotions that will, with every listen, leave you drained. This isn’t a feel-good album, it’s exactly the opposite. Diveyede makes you feel, and whether it’s emotional for good or bad, not everyone can do that. That’s skill right there.
For some reason, I was drawn to this new release but it wasn’t about the music for me, it was about a shared love that I have with the Brooklyn emcee SAGA. On the cover is an image of the Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who to this day remains as one of my favorite boxers. Ok, I’ll bite.
SAGA’s latest release is the Hagler EP, which may be an ode to the retired former champion, with sample commentaries featuring newsmen and Hagler himself. The EP comes 2 years after SAGA’s last release Molotov and as a prologue to his forthcoming full-length Agassi. But on Hagler, he comes out swinging with “Oasis,” and much like the boxer, SAGA doesn’t engorge his work with flash or vocal trickery, instead he drops clear and concise rhymes over a thick beat. He’s here for one reason only: to put in that hard work, letting everything else fall where it may.
Now, there’s no braggadocio here, straight clear lyricism. Listening to “Die Twice,” that’s what I’m getting a feel for. The track opens with his words “If they take blood, they owe blood,” SAGA clearly living here through Old Testament eyes. But the words spun here are inner-city street tales, littered with drugs, guns, body armor, and retributions. The melancholic feel of the backdrop SAGA’s words are juxtaposed against, make this interesting. California emcee Fashawn joins SAGA on “Cry Wolf” where both volley lyrics off one another as the mic gets passed back and forth. Again, musically the music is darkly shaded, sorrowfully desolate but worth the sadness.
With the Hagler EP, there’s no flash, no trickery or redundancy, just those thick beats where SAGA reigns over with succinctly worded lyricism.