Alternative hip hop is a sneaky phrase isn’t it? Hip hop at its core is prose set to a beat or music. No matter how expansive the genre gets, those who steer clear from the pop structures and the norms of what the music industry wants will always prevail and stand out as innovators. In the guise of innovation, few have stayed true to their own visions as La Porte’s B L A C K I E. The grime rapper has mixed things up over the years while still staying true to hip hop and his own vision of what his music is. On his new album FACE THE DARKNESS II he continues that vision with an album that hits as hard as it swings.
The opening track “CLOSER TO THE FIRE” gets going as soon as it begins. Unwieldy guitar meets the harsh beats in a flurry of the rapper’s voice and effects. The dark notations here let you know that this isn’t an album for the faint. This is more like a statement than a sentiment, but here B L A C K I E returns to the enigmatic sound that made him well known without rehashing the past. “I GET NUMB” opens with a piano before going deep into the hearty mixtures of a beat, vocals screamed and a saxophone that seems to fall just within the mix. It’s heavy but accessible. It’s wild but within the experimental noise sound that the producer thrives within. “INTO WALLS” keeps the chaos coming with a mixture of vocals, beats and brass intermingled to create a sound you haven’t experienced yet. It’s future and without compromise while keeping things as bleak and energetic as you want.
But as these tracks can be looked upon as harsh, they’re really more of an extension of how we are ourselves. With a year that we’ve seen people publicly maligned over their race, a pandemic that has stopped us all in our tracks while taking so many lives, these songs represent the screams at what we’ve all gone through in the past ten months. “STOP THEM FROM RETURNING” has so much power, “WE SEE THEM LIVING” is blanketed with emotional weight and “THEY FEED ON THE LIVING” is as internally abrasive as it is eviscerate. But of the ten tracks, it’s on “TIRED OF BEING HUNTED” where B L A C K I E rings and brings the most truth. The song sounds like the title suggests. In a world where white privilege gets debated by idiots who try to pretend that it’s not a thing, the rapper offers a lens on how it makes everyone else feel when people are murdered over the color of their skin. It’s powerful and strong while delivering a message at the same time. THIS is B L A C K I E at his finest to date.
FACE THE DARKNESS II is available to stream and purchase from Bandcamp. There are no live dates scheduled as of yet for the noise artist, yet that should change soon.
Image Credits: Photo by Daniel Jackson.