Houston hip hop has always been full of diverse paths to get the rhymes out. Whether it be the era when Geto Boys ruled the airwaves or in the DJ Screw era when the copped technique took the world by storm. Since those times the genre has only become more varied. With artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Maxo Kream and Fat Tony continuously highlighting the Gulf Coast mecca. But throughout many of these eras, Houston’s B L A C K I E has forged his own path. Mixing noise and grime into his immense sound has been at the forefront of always being light years ahead of the industry. On his new album Face The Darkness the rapper offers his most accessible release to date, while still steering the ship far and beyond what anyone else in hip hop is doing today.
Stating that the album is the most accessible in many ways is a moot point as it is after all a B L A C K I E album. Opening with “WHILE THEY TRY TO KILL EACH OTHER,” the intensity is there from the jump. The dark and bleak piano mixes well with the screamed vocals. The immense heaviness to the track is the marker for how much of the album plays out. Keeping in line with this, the anguish in how the music rolls out on “THERE IS NO LIGHT” showcases the hearty tones within. The intermingled beats and piano flanked with saxophone creates a symphonic chorus underneath the acute vocals. B L A C K I E isn’t relenting here, yet the overall sound is very much his while also being different in so many ways.
Almost orchestral at times, the album has moments of stark honesty while stripping away the dystopian tones of his previous album REMAINS. “MEET THE DEMONS” comes in hard and never lets up while “WAVE YOUR FLAG” continues the darkness in which the rapper operates between hip hop and noise. Where “UNCOUNTED” has a severe and acute tone between the piano and the pulsating beat, and how “NEVER BE A SLAVE” has a chanted opening that could be an anthem for a current generation, the favored track of the album comes on “IT CAN’T DEFINE ME.” The way the piano opens with a tender honesty is remarkable in its simplicity. When the drop comes in, the dual vocals and the utter fervent attitude within the song come across in bright shining letters. The bass gurgles along with a more complete band feel while the noise elements aren’t as extreme as on his previous releases. However the mark that B L A C K I E’s music makes is still there, forever stating this is what individualism sounds like.
Face The Darkness is ready to purchase digitally and to stream at Bandcamp.
Image Credits: Photo by Daniel Jackson.