What is Hip-Hop? (Hip-Hopping the question? – sorry I couldn’t resist…)
- cLOUDEDEAD member ”WHY?’ looking suitably inquisitive
This is the question posed by the San Francisco based collective Anticon.
Eschewing usual machismo attitudes, Anticon push hip-hop into abstraction experimenting with its component parts (Beats, Bass and Rhymes) disassembling and re-assembling them into something almost unrecognisable. As a result much of the hip-hop world has a hard time reconciling their differences though it is clear where the collectives influences lie.
cLOUDDEAD represent my personal jewel in the crown of the collective, their music is unlike anything ive ever heard before or since; dense psychedelic drones coupled with slowed down breakbeats and surrealist polyrhythmic rapping. It is hard to describe the sound accurately, the closest reference point i can think of is Boards Of Canada (who coincidently remixed Dead Dogs Two) though by comparison BOC sounds stone-cold sober.
Although there are clear similarities in the complexity of the music to IDM the production of Odd Nosdam never feels ‘cold’ as is often a pitfall of over-intellectualising music (im looking at you Autechre) and owes more to the ‘wall of noise’ of My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 shoegaze masterpiece ‘Loveless’.
Since the production is so far removed from the norm, it should come as no surprise that the lyrics are going to be wierd, that is until hearing just how bizarre they are:
The Velvet Ant
Wingless wasp, the velvet ant.
to the lower most corner of the pen.
Chicken wire and it’s either side imprisonment,
and the windows all stacked up
under the farm barn awning.
walk a cage full of goats across a basketball court,
goats with rectangled pupils.
A rattle snake caught in a wheel well.
Starwberry in an ostrich throat.
All this and more at a pyramii video shoot.
Other than the ridiculously cryptic lyrics that make the warblings of Cedric Bixler-Zavala (Mars Volta) look positively coherent, just the actual sound of WHY? and Doseone’s raps are inaccessible in themselves; their voices seem much higher in pitch than the usual booming register of mainstream rappers, sometimes echoing the bizarre tonality of Quasimoto.
As you may have gathered this is not ‘easy listening’ but that is besides the point ;the challenge engages the listener and as a result is more rewarding.
unfortunately cLOUDEAD have long since split up but WHY?, Doseone and Odd Nosdam have continued with other projects, all of which are definitely worth a listen, of particular note are:
Odd Nosdam – T.I.M.E (psych-folk/hip-hop soundtrack to Element skateboards ‘This is My Element’ video)
Why? – alopecia (Hip-Hop influenced folk-indie/pop)
Themselves- CrownsDown (collab between Doseone and JEL: more ‘traditional’ hip-hop (though i use this term loosely)
and finally, a nugget of pure psyhedelic UK Hip-Hop: