Chicago rap outfit Angry Blackmen has announced its new album, The Legend of ABM (Deathbomb Arc), set for release on 1/26/24. The duo has shared the video for the lead single “Stanley Kubrick.” Angry Blackmen is the duo of Quentin Branch and Brian Warren and The Legend of ABM is a 30-minute coming-of-age narrative centered around Black men navigating this wilderness known as North America. A crucial and affecting inspiration was Richard Matheson’s 1954 post-apocalyptic horror novel I Am Legend: “For us, this album is kinda like our villain origin story, a bedtime story and introduction to those who have and haven’t heard of us yet. Black men have historically been the boogie men of America, so I think it’s fitting that we tell our own legend.”
Lead single “Stanley Kubrick” features both Branch and Warren shattering the beat with their braggadocio. The accompanying video, directed by Jon Le Vert, is thrilling, featuring both heroes in a dim-lit parking garage with their vivid lyrics on full display. “Lyrically and production-wise, the song brings the listener into a different world,” says Branch. “Similarly to Kubrick, the verses set up the perfect shot.” It’s just an appetizer for what’s to come.
Branch and Warren have been stretching their arms and tapping into different sounds since 2014, with Warren eventually suggesting they join forces as a duo towards the end of 2016. Just a year later, they smashed onto the scene with their debut single “OK!,” a prime introduction showcasing the two immensely skilled rappers’ adept ability at wielding the microphone (and doing so with good cause). Barely a month after “OK!”’s release, ABM dropped “Riot!,” a near-complete shift in sound that remained tethered to the sonic foundation they’d first built. The duo’s debut project, Talkshit!, weaved through the circles of underground, experimental rap, attracting attention and acclaim along the way. It was enough to grab the ears of Deathbomb Arc, the progressive Philadelphia-based label known for its Avant and eclectic roster with releases from Death Grips, JPEGMAFIA, clipping., Julia Holter, U.S. Girls, and others. ABM’s first two releases for Deathbomb, HEADSHOTS! (2020) and REALITY! (2021), found ABM honing their craft and expanding their range.
Leaving no second wasted, The Legend of ABM jumps straight to the point, smacking listeners’ eardrums with catchy wordplay and spine-splitting production handled by Formants. The 11-track adventure presents an expression of hip-hop not seen before, infusing multiple sounds within the 50-year-old genre. If you lift up the hood, Branch and Warren are delivering a masterclass in top-notch poetic lyricism, spinning tales of depression, existentialism and self-reflection in ways that aren’t always pretty. Across The Legend of ABM, Branch and Warren spit personal anecdotes of tragedy and survival over soundscapes created from the future. It is their strongest work to date, but it’s no excursion for the weak. The two emcees provide a passionate yet introspective look at the world at large, their raw, pathos-infused poetry educating the listener of the pre-apocalyptic world we’re already living in. The Legend of ABM is relatable to anyone simply trying to survive.