Here’s the thing: I love the type of music Kanye is making right now: dark, aggressive, challenging, dystopian, memorable, etc. The thing that bothers me, however, is that music critics and fans are so willing to talk about how innovative and unique and revolutionary it is, when they ignore a ton of artists making similarly dark, aggressive, challenging, dystopian, memorable music. I’m not saying that he doesn’t deserve the attention (I’ve been a Kanye apologist up until very recently); just that he’s not the only one pushing boundaries.
Add to this Kanye’s recent lyrical output (ridiculously misogynistic, hyperbolically self-centered, etc.), and I’m just not interested in re-listening to (much less buying) Yeezus. If you’re in the same boat, here are a few other options for when you want a soundtrack for smashing things:
If you still haven’t heard Saul Williams’ self-titled LP, GO GET THAT. It’s one of my favorite albums ever– incredibly dense, challenging, bone-shattering music that features snarling, singing, rapping and talking. So if that kind of thing is what’s drawing you to Yeezus, you can get a lot of that here, but with some substantive lyrics too. Plus his followup album, “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust,” was produced by Trent Reznor. Both LPs are worth your time.
I know for locals and indie-rap heads, this one is obvious, but to my many readers who still haven’t heard of P.O.S., you should check out his work, especially his most recent. Where he’s built a reputation mixing hip hop and punk/hardcore sounds, “We Don’t Even Live Here” pushes his sonic palette even further, incorporating a whole range of electro (I won’t even attempt to break that down into specific genres) sounds. It’s an incredibly dynamic album too.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t WANT to like El-P. For sure, if you’re looking for anti-misogynistic or politically correct hip hop, he probably shouldn’t be your first stop. But on a purely musical level, he’s undeniable. The clip I decided to post is for “Flyentology” featuring Trent Reznor, but both “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” and “Cancer 4 Cure” are jaw-dropping albums, full of dark, challenging, claustrophobic, angry rap music. He also produced Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music.”
There’s more, obviously: Kill the Vultures, Plight of the Parasite, Death Grips, the list could go on. Even Dead Prez, whom Kanye has been name-dropping recently; while they get lumped into the new school “conscious” rap movement, let’s not forget that the beats on “Let’s Get Free” where pretty intense and weird. Any other suggestions?