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Though you may already be a fan of either or both of these artists if you consider yourself an active member of the underground or indie hip hop music scene, you may not be aware of a collaboration released by these two heavily slept-on Emcees on the 30th of November, this year.
“Lice”, a title aptly given to this infectious production, is a diverse five track E.P. Released for free with the support of Stones Throw Records in the interest of holiday spirit. Each track features a distinct sound from the creative genius of a different producer! With no prior warning of such a project in the works, it came as quite a shock to many fans of either artist when the artists social media collectively began promoting this unanticipated gift. Not only was the E.P. Released freely for streaming, It can also be downloaded at no charge (https://www.stonesthrow.com/news/2015/11/lice)! The artists make note, however, that if a person feels like purchasing this release or contributing to it in any way, that they instead donate a small amount of money to either of these two organizations.
I know… “Fuck off with the advertisement Jake, I wanna know what it sounds like!”
Well, here’s my honest opinion: …It was a’íght…
Nah, it was actually pretty damn groovy! I guess it mostly just wasn’t what I had expected.
I find myself listening to it continuously, despite the few issues I have with it. That’s a good sign, right? Being a fan of both artists music, individually, I figured this project HAD to be a fresh slice of fried gold, but that wasn’t exactly true. Before I continue to lead you into a dark tunnel with no flashlight, however, I guess it’s only fair for me to explain myself.
Once I turned on the first track, Vertigo- produced by DJ Spinna, I could tell I was in for a dark and humorous experience that could only be delivered by a project associated with Aesop Rock. This was a great note to start the E.P. Off on, and Aes Rock kicks into his first verse like hes trying to take its lunch money! However, when Homeboy Sandman Starts in with his contribution to the track, he just fails to carry the same energy. Part of me thinks, “Maybe that was the point?” Maybe it was, but it didn’t grab me, personally.
Listening to the second track, Katz- Produced by Optiks, I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement. Much like Vertigo, this tracks instrumental is on point! Energetic and bouncy. The flighty tune of a discordant organ drives the melody for this piece and it definitely hooks the listener based purely on its stand alone qualities. More of a light hearted track, it showcases the duos mailable ability to play off each other like two friends talking Trash while chillin’ on the couch. Though their personal autonomy doesn’t seem to clash as much in this track, it still seems a little abrasive. wrapping your brain around Homeboys typically downtempo style, playing with half beats and strange syllable placement, paired with Aesop’s hallucinogenic vocabulary is starting to become a little easier at this point, and your just another square getting pushed through that round hole.
Moving onto my personal favorite track on the E.P., Environmental Studies- Produced by Blockhead, you think you’re ready, but you’re not. The instrumental is nothing less than what you would expect from such a legendary producer. The intoxicatingly somber sound of a cello played pizzicato in time with the complex crash and crack of a live drum kit. In my opinion, it also seems like this track signifies a turning point on the E.P., where the artists finally become their concept and take on a singular sound where they understand how to work with each other without compromising their particular styles. Not to mention, the hook is barbed and it stick to your brain goo! You’ll be remembering this one long after you move on to the next track.
The fourth track, So Strange Here- produced by Alex Gale, is a much more chill and introspective track That definitely serves its purpose to fluctuate the emotion of the listener amidst the linear direction of the first half of the E.P. The ambient pulse of this production certainly falls beneath the listeners threshold and creates a feeling of sedation for the duo to imprint their life experiences on. Possibly the most overtly relatable track on this short E.P.
Finally, Get a Dog- produced by Charles Hamilton, closes out the release with it’s most aggressive and out of place instrumental, sampling Linkin Park’s, “One Step Closer”, It will shamelessly attack your cochleas with gritty guitar samples, a bass-heavy kick, the pernicious bark of a mean ass dog, and the angry proclamation, “SHUT UP WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!”. The point of the track is clear, but again, I feel like it might have been outside the realm of Homeboys comfort, being so hostile.
Despite my minimal qualms with this release, I really can’t wait to see whether or not more material will be collaborated on between these two highly talented Emcees! The amalgamation of production, itself, was flawless. The material maintains its replay value, and it even carries a continual tone of jovial disgust, but for some reason the two just seem to clash a little more than they theoretically should. This Being a free release, created (from what I understand) mostly independently, I can only imagine what these two heavy hitters could produce with an extended budget and more resources! Give it a listen, and let us know what you think, and as always, get at us with which album you’d like to see reviewed next!
I give it a 7/10
We both know you’re not doing anything for the next twenty minutes. Go stream that shit!
-Jake, Your humble keyboard lackey.