Artist: Astro King Phoenix
Album: Cries from 2025
Song: Wolf Like Me Intro
A cloud trembles in the sky bordering on transparency, desperately longing to obtain its form. Thread by thread it is pulled apart by the sweeping autumn wind. The scent of the looming winter lingers in the air. Shards of moon light now emerge through the intricate carvings in the cloud. Another icy gust and an unnaturally bright, unobstructed view of a milky yellow and white sphere appear. Leaves rustle. Several long and pained and concentrated howls sound from within a thick, impenetrably dark forest. A group of shadows can barely be seen. Wolf Like Me Intro is blaring from a long since abandoned cabin in the middle of all of this. There’s no visible door, and the windows appear hopelessly shattered.
The sound is shredding through the worn lumber like the transforming creatures through flesh howling in the woods. This isn’t the only similarity between the two. The creatures. The verses and beat are hungry, fast and uncompromising. Vicious. Eager to find their next victim. The sound is more haunting than the echoes of distant snarling and snapping, of broken twigs and grinding teeth. Delivery sharper than a glistening claw in the moonlight. There is a certain momentum to the song, to the mixtape as a whole, as Astro King Phoenix and Mackned send the listener on an unending climb into the unknown.
Album: Alice Gla$$
The deterioration of main stream rap music has been welcomed, crumbling and receding with relative quietness. There will always be those that blindly agree with whatever the blundering, disconnected stooge puts in his top 50 albums of the year in Rolling Stone. (Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail in the top 5 is an abomination) Complacency is key, consuming whatever watered down sediment being served. For the rest of us willing to even scratch the surface of the seedy underbelly of the rap underworld…the treasures and rarities are immense and endless.
Digging deep into the dark, sulfurous and belching mine of rap albums, a vein of lustrous, unblemished gold is unearthed, Alice Gla$$. The cover art alone is enough to fascinate, and beckon the listener deeper into the unknown. In this case a mysterious pool of all encompassing sound. Each song urges the listener to wade further and further out. Making the comfortable shore line less visible. Most sound like something Dr. Frankenstein indulged in, in the more heightened moments of enlightenment during the creation of his monster. Or Dr. Gero tinkering away at his coveted androids. Sounds that could exist in a laboratory abandoned several years ago. Unknown remnants glued on thousands of broken testing tubes trembling on the floor. A faint green glow of a desktop computer that has been on for a decade. The beats and verses are unfamiliar, rich, and uncanny. Sprawling with a digestible tension. The beat remains at its best when it cuts out to acapella for a poignantly delivered punchline.
Alice Gla$$ is the Venice Beach of lyricism. Something for everyone willing to embrace the grime, a wormhole of weird. A verbal onslaught covering every topic anyone could possibly dream of. Harry Potter, poverty, Dragon Ball Z, pharmaceuticals, money, life, lean, death, religion, Sailor Moon are all addressed. Super Saiyan focus on every track. Carving through beats like a perpetual Super Spirit Bomb. Alice Gla$$ could mess around and get rap album of the year.
Artist: Bolo Nef
Album: Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus is a pharmaceutical vortex of beats and feelings. The meditative tones carefully cradle introverted, spiritual and resolutely desolate lyrics. These are the sounds playing as an ancient Samurai bladesmith crafts a flawless and honorable sword. Rhythmically folding and pounding the white hot Tamahagane, shrouded, inhaling and exhaling an undetermined murky haze. Or an astronaut wandering thoughtfully and aimlessly on a sandy dune in a vacant desert planet several galaxies away. An album made for the past, and the future, and no time in particular.