Classic Album Review

Danny Brown’s “Atrocity Exhibition”: A Review

My first introduction to Danny Brown’s music was through his 2016 album “Atrocity Exhibition”. After subsequently visiting the rest of his discography, this album still holds its place as Brown’s most introspective and critical.

Over the 45 minute runtime, Brown delivers a haunting portrayal of a life intimately tied to drugs, including all of the pleasures and struggles that accompany them.

Admittedly, it takes some getting used to his voice on the majority of “Atrocity Exhibition” tracks. However, Brown’s whiny, nasally rapping helps reinforce the sense that he is most certainly not sober as he raps.

“Ain’t It Funny”

Brown’s primary goal with “Atrocity Exhibition is to keep people from getting sucked into heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and other drugs. At the same time though, he knows why people do get involved, and much of the rest of the album is dedicated to exploring those reasons.

Live a fast life, seen many die slowly

Unhappy when they left so I try to seize the moment

Lyrics from “Ain’t It Funny” by Danny Brown

“Ain’t It Funny” explores Brown’s own denial of the dangers of hiding away his problems with drugs. Part of the denial comes from a place of drugs being inescapable. Growing up poor, drug use seems “inherited in our blood”. He also falls victim to toxic masculinity, seeing drug use as a sort of ritual that all the men in his area undergo. Therefore, even though he “might need rehab”, he’s not going to for fear of seeming weak.

Music video of “Ain’t It Funny” by Danny Brown, directed by Jonah Hill

The title of the song itself, “Ain’t It Funny” reflects Brown’s feelings on exposing his most vulnerable self to an audience primarily looking for entertainment. Especially considering his previous work, many listeners have taken home a message of: “doing drugs is fun kids!”

Brown simultaneously knows that people get drunk and high at parties to his music, which he does make a living off of, yet these tendencies are extremely harmful to both himself and others. He needs to stop, but he can’t due to addiction to the chemicals, the thrill, and the success.

A Race to The Bottom

If there’s anything Brown especially excels at, it’s pacing. The album never feels like it stalls anywhere, even when songs slow down their bpm and feature less intense beats. “Downward Spiral” begins the album with a raucous, uncertain experience of not feeling grounded. Intensity of tracks fluctuates slightly through the ghostly “Lost”.

All hell breaks loose as “Ain’t It Funny” hits and the energy from that climax seeps through the following four tracks into “Dance In The Water”. This track forces you to keep up as best as you can as it speeds through its sporadic yet hypnotic verses and party-fueled chorus. You feel pulled into the need to “dance in the water / and not get wet” as if that task were actually possible.

And then, everything just stops with “From The Ground”. The beat on this track is far more minimalistic than anything else on the album, especially compared to the prior song. Brown also shifts to his speaking voice, which sounds more sober, matured, and heartbroken.

“When It Rain” immediately contradicts this sense with the now familiar whiny vocals you’ve come to expect from Brown. The beat, which is almost completely made from sampling of the experimental “Pot au feu”, imitates the feeling of Brown taking an absurd amount of drugs to escape the worries he discusses on “From The Ground”.

Personally, I feel the urge to continuously speed up while driving when listening to the track. The thrill is invigorating, but it’s progressively more dangerous to both myself and the people around me as I do it. Brown’s whole point is to keep from giving in to that urge.

Only way you hang is with a noose

Beef with us, it ain’t no truce

Lyrics from “When It Rain” by Danny Brown

Concluding Thoughts

There is a level of depth of analysis that can be applied to “Atrocity Exhibition” that I’ve only seen a few other albums be able to achieve. Brown subverts the whole gangster rap genre while also fitting in perfectly by referencing all of the “right things”: gun violence, sex, drug abuse, etc. The entirety of the album reeks of irony: even though the experimental, sample-heavy instrumentals seem to encourage escapism, only excaping the grip of these pleasures will keep you alive.

Rating: 9.5/10

Best tracks: “Ain’t It Funny”, “Pneumonia”, “Dance In The Water”, “When It Rain”

— DJ Cashew

Classic Album Review

Album Review: “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” by Denzel Curry

ALBUM: “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” by Denzel Curry


LABEL: ​​PH and Loma Vista Recordings

RATING: 8/10

BEST TRACKS: “The Ills,” “Chrome Hearts” and “Walkin”

FCC: Explicit language

In this recent album, Denzel Curry swaps out his signature sound for some self-introspection. He comes to terms with the struggles he has had and poetically lays it out for the audience to be a part of. Fans are used to his hype lyrics, bass-boosted beats, and hard-hitting quick flow; but this album offers something different. 

This fifth studio album comes after projects full of bangers like “Ta13oo” and “Zuu”. However, what Curry wanted to present with this album was something other than catchy songs and ragers. His pivot allows for more intimate and reflective music as he explores both his worldview and his view of himself. 

The album opens up with “Melt Session #1” which is a slower, self-analyzing introductory ballad. The track, with a piano feature and production from Rober Glasper, provides a soothing yet somewhat haunting sound. These instrumentals pair well with the lyrics, as Curry is discussing more serious topics and wrongs from his past. 

Dealt with thoughts of suicide, women I’ve objectified/ Couldn’t see it through my eyes so for that, I apologize/ I’m just hypnotized, working hard to empathize

Lyrics from “Melt Session #1” by Denzel Curry

The song seamlessly flows into the second track “Walkin” by carrying the same angelic background vocals and lyrical refrain. “Walkin” works through some of the personal difficulties Curry has faced while explaining how he interacts with the world around him as obstacles are thrown his way. He raps, 

I just gotta stay focused/ I just gotta keep walkin

Lyrics from “Walkin” by Denzel Curry

This was the first track dropped from the album and features production from Kal Banx at Top Dawg Entertainment. Curry’s vocals begin with a slow progression and then switch to double-time with the build-up of a classic trap beat. Despite sticking with a familiar beat and flow in this song, he takes an unrushed pace. 

The next notable track on the album, “Troubles,” details his problems with substance abuse and his ability to prioritize what matters. He confesses how he would easily blow his money on drugs, but he would not spend it on what he loves or needs. 

I just lost my house to the drought/ Now I’m stayin’ on my mama couch/ Told me get a job or to bounce/ Never paid a bill, I cop a ounce

Lyrics from “Troubles” by Denzel Curry

The song, produced by Kenny Beats and DJ Khalil, also features the iconic and catchy autotuned vocals of T-Pain. The lyrics of the track are juxtaposed with its sound, which is a fun and bassy beat with a pop chorus. The extended edition of the album also has a “Cold Blooded Soul Version” of “Troubles” which brings in energetic percussion and brass. I would definitely say I prefer the live instrumentals in this version to the production in the regular track. 

My favorite song on the album, also only on the extended “Cold Blooded Soul Version,” is “Chrome Hearts.” This song takes Curry’s flow and lays it over a light jazz-rap beat. Produced by Aaron Bow, Thurdi and Ashton McCreight, the track also features vocals in the hook from Zacari. Curry poetically raps about an internal conflict regarding the fairness of success as he compares himself to the less fortunate. 

A main man, bay man, payin’ for some Ray-Bans/ That cost more than your rent while others struggle to get a cent/ In a sense, I ain’t shit because there’s many people starvin’/ Tombstones of a selfish man, these words are carved in

Lyrics from “Chrome Hearts” by Denzel Curry

The last memorable song on the album, “The Ills,” was produced by Dot Da Genius & Noah Goldstein. In this track, Curry wraps up the album with some piano, deep soul-searching, and self-proclaiming. He reflects on his music as a mode of self-expression and a way of processing his past. He also presents ideas about finding his true purpose and bettering himself. As he is attempting to explain himself now, he acknowledges he does not have it all figured out and still faces struggles. This by far is the most well-written song on the album and the lyrics are executed beautifully through his smooth and gentle flow. My favorite verse in the track follows:

I could be ferocious in my times of feelin’ feeble/ Sick of life’s ills, it could be short for illegal/ Common sense, a victim to sensory deprivation/ The mediator met with it all is in meditation/ Lord invited me to stay idly on his left side/ So I can right my wrongs in these songs to live and let die

Lyrics from “The Ills” by Denzel Curry

While some songs fall short on this album, like “Zatoichi,” I still think Denzel succeeded at challenging his own status quo. The album demonstrates the growth he has gone through, not only as an artist but as a person. As someone who has been a fan since 2015, and is very familiar with the “old Denzel,” I confidently believe that this is one of his best, if not his best, project so far. He works with new instrumentals, strong features, and vulnerable lyrics, all of which make this album stand out. 

Thanks for reading,

Maddie H.

Classic Album Review

Avantdale Bowling Club: A Review

Avantdale Bowling Club’s self-titled debut album is a wonderfully produced jazz project led by New Zealand rapper Tom Scott. The band’s name refers to Scott’s hometown of Avondale, New Zealand. Much of this album “was creatively fueled by a stint living in Melbourne” where Scott seemed to mature some from his previous projects.

“Water Medley”

Photo courtesy of Pedro Szekely, under Creative Commons

“Avantdale Bowling Club” can best be described as a leisurely stroll through struggle. With an average song length of 6.5 minutes, each track meanders around looking for a place to settle. Each track feels loose and free to evolve as it pleases. That effect gets amplified by Tom Scott’s rapping, which disregards the need for a consistent beat on tracks like “Pocket Lint”.

Instead, Scott’s vocals often float through the instrumentals, not trying to find a sound to anchor to. The jazz melody plays as if Scott weren’t even there, resulting in a lively, yet mellow sound to contrast Scott’s melancholic voice.

This flow is contrasted somewhat through tracks like “Water Medley”, which is a nine minute collection of multiple smaller songs centered around water. Here, jazz is combined with heavy hip-hop beats to create a more original sound. This influence helps reinforce Scott’s primary objective with this album, which is to tell the story of his life’s misfortunes and struggles.

Poverty is a Fiend

“Avantdale Bowling Club” is a tale of the trappings of living paycheck to paycheck with a child while coping with alcohol and drugs. This sentiment comes through incredibly clear on “Pocket Lint”, which is essentially Scott ranting about not having enough money to live. However, he never feels like he’s repeating himself because of how well he pieces together different issues that come from low-income in the city.

The price of the life, the price of death
The price of gas, the price of meth, the side effect of stress

Lyrics from “Pocket Lint” by Avantdale Bowling Club

Scott’s rap flow is what really brings the album together, though. Probably the best example of his talents comes in the last verse, where you can’t help but bob your head along to his lyrics. Likewise, “F(r)iends” is where emotion comes through most, making it the most intriguing of any track. The song is a remembrance of both the good and bad times Scott had with one of his friends through drugs before he committed suicide. The emotional weight of this track encourages Scott to put on his best performance as a result.

Concluding Thoughts

Unfortunately, not all of the album is as memorable as the tracks discussed here. The back half of the album lacks direction, as if Scott only had a couple different things he was able to discuss in his music that lasted four or five songs. “Quincy’s March” is more hopeful than other tracks, but lacks any distinctive sound from the rest of the album.

“Tea Break” seems like an instrumental track that Scott originally meant to rap over, but simply lacked the material to turn into a full song.I still have the best songs on “Avantdale Bowling Club” on repeat often, but I rarely come back for the rest of the album for these reasons.

Rating: 6.5/10

— DJ Cashew

Classic Album Review

Chainsaw Charts 2/14

1GIF FROM GOD“A Kiss For Every Hornet” [Single]Prosthetic
2JUDICIARY“Engulfed” [Single]Closed Casket Activities
3SUMMONING THE LICH“The Forest Feasts” [Single]Prosthetic
4CHILDREN OF THE REPTILEHeavy Is The HeadSelf-Released
5HUMAN RACE IS FILTH, THECognitive DissonanceSelf-Released
6VISITANT“Dematerialization” [Single]Self-Released
7DREAMS OF GRAYThe World After [EP]Self-Released
8AND OCEANSAs In Gardens, So In TombsSeason Of Mist
9FORETOKEN“Demon Queller” [Single]Prosthetic
10OBITUARYDying Of EverythingRelapse

Chainsaw Adds

1DISTANTHeritageCentury Media
Classic Album Review

Visions of Bodies Being Burned – clipping. Review

Over the past month or so, I’ve been entranced by clipping.‘s 2020 release, “Visions of Bodies Being Burned”. Full of industrial energy, “Visions” is a headache-inducing, horror rap journey that I cannot get enough of. I truly do not believe there is another hip-hop group around right now with a similar style and sound as clipping.

A Blood Narrative

One of the most cohesive threads running through “Visions” is how well clipping. pieces together narratives like a detective novel. “Say the Name” sets this precedence with the story of a woman haunted by a DIY abortion of a nine-month pregnancy. The consistently violent imagery following her lust after a man keeps listeners in morbid curiosity of how her situation could have ended so poorly.

clipping. also seems to have done a decent bit of murder investigation as well. With how vividly the killings of three different cops are described, there’s so much dread that went through me listening to “Body for the Pile”. Even the horrifically grinding sound of overdriven static at the start of the track adds to its aesthetic. The three murders only get more violent and messy as the song progresses.

Three little pigs and they can’t do nothing, for the last time

You can’t run, you just a body for the pile

Lyrics from “Body for the Pile” by clipping.

It’s hard to miss, but the way the officers’ corpses are just “bodies for the pile” highlights their stance on police getting killed generally. The first is beaten to death, the second is shot, and the third is killed in a car crash, representing the most common atrocities committed by cops against civilians.

The Sound of Violence

Photo of "clipping." at a live performance.
Promotional photo of clipping. Courtesy of Edwina Hay at Sub Pop Records.

One of the most striking aspects of clipping.’s music is how overwhelmingly powerful the bass is on every track. Many songs start with either rumbling, deep bass or pure noise for the sake of noise. There’s very little in terms of percussion or any lighter sounds than this pounding that permeates the album. So, when the bass drops out, you know to pay extra attention to rapper Daveed Diggs’s lyrics.

His rapid-fire style and punchy flow are in themselves just as violent as the music he raps over. The use of an extensive range of metaphors and references only make his verses all the more dynamic. His voice isn’t particularly heavy though, so it can still cut through the rest of clipping.’s beats when it needs to. The result is an outburst of frustration at a wide variety of social ills from police violence to the destruction of Earth. As a response to the violence of the perpetrators, clipping. calls for an equally violent revolution.

Waiting patient for the signal when the time is right

To bring it down

Lyrics from “Something Underneath” by clipping.

Concluding Thoughts

When a group with this much talent comes along, they become hard to ignore. I believe that they will surpass other experimental hip-hop artists with future records powered by their toxic industrial production within the next few years. From this album, I especially enjoyed the songs mentioned above, as well as “She Bad” and “’96 Neve Campbell”.

Rating: 9/10

— DJ Cashew

Classic Album Review

Well, I Should Have become a Jazz Daredevil

A couple months ago, a friend of mine referred to me an album called “Well, I Should Have…*” by Jon Benjamin – Jazz Daredevil. The record was released in 2015 under Sub Pop Records, who have a track record of talented artists. I’m typically not much of a jazz listener, but I decided to give this a shot.

The Premise

H. Jon Benjamin is a comedian, writer, actor, and “musician” who decided to create a jazz album with some other professional musicians on drums, bass, and saxophone. Lacking any skill or practice on piano, Benjamin attempts to sell his soul to the devil and is turned down. The rest of the album is divided into 4 parts, each titled “I Can’t Play Piano”.

Portrait photo of H. Jon Benjamin at the 2022 WonderCon in Anaheim, California
H. Jon Benjamin at the 2022 WonderCon in Anaheim, California. Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore, under Creative Commons.

The first part begins with a lively saxophone led section, and actually sounds quite good. The drums and bass play together wonderfully, and the sax solos are dynamic and fresh. And then Benjamin comes along.

With no sense of rhythm, melody, or how chords work, Benjamin’s piano sounds like a dying songbird with its vocal cords swapped around. When playing as backup for the lead saxophone, he actually doesn’t sound that bad, all things considered. But, since he has to improvise his solos, he is hopelessly out of tune with the rest of the band. In fact, they just play over him as if there is no piano to begin with.

This pattern continues throughout the rest of the album. The professional jazz players try their hardest to create a satisfying, cohesive set while the Jazz Daredevil tries his hardest to keep that from happening. And that makes this album so fun to listen to. This album is the music equivalent of “The Room” or “The VelociPastor”, which I consider to be high praise as a comedy special.

The Skits

As a comedian, Benjamin can’t help himself from putting a couple of jazz-inspired skits in his album. “Amy’s Song (The Bum Steer)” is a raunchy song too explicit to describe here, and it has to be the worst of his three skits, so I’ll skip over it. “Deal With the Devil” and “Soft Jazzercise” are spoken word interludes performed by Benjamin that fit in perfectly with the musical tone of the album.

The first of these tracks actually features Kristen Schaal and Aziz Ansari, both well-respected comedians in their own right. The dialogue between Benjamin and Schaal may remind listeners of a conversation from “Bob’s Burgers”, since they voice Bob and Louise Belcher, respectively. Benjamin’s timid insistence on selling his soul is honestly endearing, especially through Benjamin’s deadpan delivery that makes him sound uninterested in the intricacies of soul-selling.

Benjamin uses “Soft Jazzercise” to ease the mind of listeners, giving them a break from his lack of piano skills. His class is easy for any listener to try out for themselves. Personally, I found it refreshing and comforting to listen to his voice lead me on a journey of self-improvement.

Closing Thoughts

This album might not be the most meticulously crafted. It might not sound as good as Thelonious Monk or Dave Brubeck. But “Well, I Should Have…*” is an incredibly creative and irreplicable album that I highly recommend listening to for any fans of music. Although, perhaps regular jazz listeners might find it too rough on the ears.

Promotional video for “Well, I Should Have…*” released by Sub Pop Records.

— DJ Cashew

Classic Album Review

Bent Knee’s “Land Animal”: Dynamic Rock at its Finest

Bent Knee was founded in 2009 between Ben Levin and Courtney Swain as a mashup of the members names: Ben and (Cour)tney. They’ve danced between more industrial rock at their founding to hyper-pop inspired, avant-garde rock as of their most recent album. Here, though, I want to discuss their most popular album, “Land Animal”. I believe this to be the greatest amalgamation of the band’s talents, especially lead singer Swain.

Musical Versatility in Bent Knee’s Hands

Bent Knee has a knack for progression throughout the runtime of their songs, which is amplified by the average 5:03 minute length of tracks on this album. Starting with lead track “Terror Bird”, the song starts with some simple, low-key drumming and rhythm guitar led by Swain’s voice. Eventually, the song picks up as a heavy, overdriven electric guitar drowns out Swain’s beautifully quivering falsetto.

Music Video for song “Terror Bird” by Bent Knee.

Likewise, “These Hands” highlights the musical storytelling Bent Knee is capable of. The song never repeats itself in structure, and each new phase feels fresh and invigorating. The bridge towards the end of the song, especially, seems to throw guitars and drums all around your ears as it goes on, creating an incredibly dynamic soundscape.

The Haunting Holiness of Bent Knee’s Voice

“Holy Ghost” is probably where Swain gets to show off her vocal range best on the album. Her loud, nasally singing on the chorus feels straight out of 90s grunge bands like Hole. She perfectly encapsulates a work-induced loneliness that breaks her. Even her quiet singing on the bridge sounds like shes about to have a mental breakdown, especially with how her voice echoes with delay.

These qualities persist through the album, of course, but they take center stage on “Holy Ghost”. Despite their often heavy subject material, Bent Knee’s music also becomes incredibly cathartic to sing along to because of these qualities. I’ve actually found listening to “Land Animal” in my car, screaming choruses to no one in particular, to be a great form of emotional relief.

I am shrinking in the laptop light
Messages and blessings from each part of my mind
When I’m writing fiction I can shriek in real life

Lyrics from “Holy Ghost” by Bent Knee

Concluding Thoughts

Again, I highly recommend “Land Animal”, and the rest of Bent Knee’s work for that matter. If you’re listening to this album for the first time, I suggest giving it your full attention, letting the guitars wash over you and the lyrics penetrate you.

Rating: 8.5/10

— DJ Cashew

Classic Album Review

BURN PYGMALION!!! The Scary Jokes’ Guide to Romance

On January 1, 2019, The Scary Jokes released their 3rd album: “BURN PYGMALION!!! A Better Guide to Romance”. This piece of quaint bedroom pop follows fictional characters Jeanine and Sylvia through the struggles of their relationship. Liz Lehman, creator of The Scary Jokes, weaves together haunting yet entrancing melodies to probe into the details of each character’s feelings for each other.

A Journalist’s Obsession With a Star

“BURN PYGMALION” is split into songs from the perspectives of both characters with short narrations in between. The second track, “Death, Thrice Drawn” first introduces Jeanine’s adoration for Sylvia, a “hotshot” who she would “set the world on fire to be with”.

However, her anxiety over their less-than-ideal situation leads her to question if the relationship can sustain itself, much like the wyrm referenced in the second verse. The mostly upbeat, synth-filled song ends with an emptying of the soundscape to allow Jeanine’s anxieties to come to light.

The title alludes to tarot cards, in which death signals great change to come, foreshadowing a turbulent relationship throughout the rest of the album. Additionally, these three phases will likely spell the end of them both by their story’s end if it reflects the “triptych in decay” referenced in the second verse.

Pygmalion – Myth Made Reality

“Pygmalion” steps into an outsider’s point of view of Sylvia and Jeanine’s relationship, scalding Sylvia for her emotional abuse of her lover. Pygmalion was originally a king in Greek myth who obsessed over sculpting the perfect wife to adore before Aphrodite brought her to life.

You’re just a monster with a BFA
She wants to claw your eyes open
So you can see, she’s not a plaything

The Scary Jokes on “Pygmalion”

Much like the king, Sylvia is accused of manipulating her object of adoration to her whims without regard for Jeanine’s feelings. Sylvia chisels “fear in [Jeanine’s] eyes” in order to keep her clinging, as reflected in the intrusive hi-hats and the general emptiness in the music surrounding them.

A Dying Fad

At the halfway point in the album, Jeanine seems to officially cut ties with Sylvia, though not without retaining her love for the star. In “Sylvia’s Just a Dying Fad”, she vents her frustrations and worries with Sylvia leaving her to go film a new movie, suspecting that she is “just a friend” who helped jumpstart Sylvia’s career.

At this point, alarm bells are ringing in Jeanine’s head, just as they do in the song itself. The low synths also seem to distort as Jeanine’s perception of Sylvia does.

No Pleasure in Love

After hearing about Jeanine’s past emotional abuse on tracks like “Emotional Vagrant”, we can understand why she might be so insecure about Sylvia leaving her for so long. On “No Leverage / No Pleasure”, She comes to realize that her habit of hiding everything away even from those she loves is part of the reason why their relationship has mostly failed so far.

Jeanine repeats “I love you/ I need you” over and over, admitting to herself that she feels incomplete without Sylvia able to take care of her. Even still, she knows that part of this need comes from Sylvia “hijacking my mind”. The same musical themes present in “Sylvia’s Just a Dying Fad” present themselves in this song, implying that she’s still cautious about Sylvia distorting her mind further.

Optimism Against the Void

The album ends with “Bets Against the Void”, in which Jeanine finally reconciles the fact that Sylvia does love her and that their love can be beautiful. The more cheerful, lighter synths return as Jeanine tries to focus on how good she feels today, not what the future may bring.

As explained in one of their tumblr posts, Lehman’s own anxieties as someone in Jeanine’s position primarily fuelled the album’s emotional themes that provide complexity. The album’s overall light, spacey instrumentals allow Lehman’s lyrics to shine through while building a stellar atmosphere for those emotional themes to be surrounded in.

Rating: 9/10

— Cashew

Classic Album Review

Dawn of a Legend – KMD’s “Mr. Hood”

KMD, “Mr. Hood” album cover art

Kause in a Much Damaged Society, or KMD, sparked the legendary career of one of its core members, Zev Love X. Among other aliases, Zev Love X eventually came to be known by the moniker MF DOOM, the underground hip hop icon. Other members of KMD included DJ Subroc (Zev Love X’s younger brother) and Onyx the Birthstone Kid. “Mr. Hood” was the debut album released by the group under Elektra Records in 1991.

Can Rap Be Comical and Impactful?

The concept that “Mr. Hood” revolves around is the namesake character, who is composed entirely of samples from language-learning tapes and travels around New York City with the members of KMD. The group also brings in sampled voice lines from sources as disparate as a Malcolm X speech on “Boy Who Cried Wolf” and Bert from Sesame Street on “Who Me? (With an Answer from Dr. Bert)” and “Humrush”.

KMD’s lyrical style is reminiscent of other artists in the New York scene during the early 90s, including A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and the Jungle Brothers. They maintain a balanced blend of light-hearted humor and themes of racism and black empowerment throughout “Mr. Hood”.

Yet, the humor often serves to emphasize more thoughtful messages from verses on “Who Me?” for example. The song begins with a snippet from Disney’s “Song of the South”, an infamously racist movie from the 40s that introduces the character Little Sambo. Zev Love X’s verses explore his outrage towards several derogatory terms for Black people, and the phrase “who me?” reflects this point.

Lips and eyes dominant traits of our race
Does not take up 95 percent of one’s face
But still I see, in the back two or three
Ignorant punks pointing at me

Lyrics from “Who Me? (With an Answer from Dr. Bert)” by KMD

Zev Love calls on Dr. Bert at the end of the song to solve this issue, in which he instructs kids to “draw a circle around [Little Sambo]”. Considering how Little Sambo is such a racist caricature of Black people, Bert is telling all kids (not just those affected) to call out racism when they see or hear it rather than letting it slide.

Philosophy of KMD

As noted on the track “Nitty Gritty”, the members of KMD are Black Muslims part of the Ansaaru Allah sect, which mixes elements of Black nationalism and Islam. At this stage in KMD’s career, all were devout and refrained from drinking or doing drugs.

The opening track off “Mr. Hood” illustrates Zev Love X’s disdain for drugs and drug dealers. After learning that Mr. Hood is a drug dealer, he tells the story of Crackpot Jenkins, who got arrested for trying to sell crack to a cop. He still manages to keep up the light-heartedness of the album by setting the story in a playground where Crackpot Jenkins sells “pebbles and stones to throw rocks”.

Since then I knew he wasn’t too head smart

As I scribbled in art he insisted on standing in the sandbox

To collect unknown amounts of pebbles and stones to throw rocks

Lyrics from “Mr. Hood At Piocallee Jewelry / Crackpot” by KMD

From Love to Villainy

Despite becoming well known as one of the best in complex rhyme later in his career, Zev Love X’s rap style still sounds highly reminiscent of established artists at the time. His rhyme scheme had not yet developed to the intricate level displayed on Madvillainy or MM…FOOD.

Additionally, he had not yet experienced the hardships that brought him to adopting his villainous persona MF DOOM such as losing his brother Subroc to a car accident. As such, he still raps enthusiastically and with a passion not present in his later work.

It’s difficult to find a track on “Mr. Hood” devoid of any funk, with thudding bass lines and a groove that resonates through every track. While albums released under MF DOOM would drop the funk sound, the driving bass and humor lived on.


Zev Love X wanted listeners to be able to enjoy KMD’s music while still preserving the artistic integrity of their messages on Black empowerment. These themes only became more of a focus on their follow-up album “Black Bastards”, which was finished after Subroc had been killed.

As a result, “Mr. Hood” remains the only album in Zev Love X’s discography to be born out of passion for his craft and relative innocence. Listeners already familiar with MF DOOM should come to this album to explore his origins and find a more upbeat and pure DOOM.

Rating: 8.5/10

— CashewCrunch

Classic Album Review

Classic Album Review: “Geogaddi” by Boards of Canada (But Backwards)

In 2002, Boards of Canada became a part of the G.O.A.T conversation for electronic artists. Their work in the tail-end of the 90’s left them with loads of widespread critical acclaim. They already made one of the greatest electronic music albums there is. They didn’t have to do it again, but they chose to anyways.

You can read a hundred reviews for “Geogaddi”, but this is a track by track review for the entire album in reverse. The reversed instrumentation, as well as the numerous hidden messages littered throughout the album suggest that the album was meant to be heard in reverse, so I intend to hear it this way.


The thick waves on “Corsair” start the album by grazing the coastline of your mind, inviting you to wade into the foamy folds of dark nostalgia presented on this album. It’s an incredible opening track, walling you off from the outside world, leaving nothing but you and whatever you used to be.

What’s incredible is that the tracks on here unfold in similar ways to their straightforward counterparts. Throughout each song, sounds are added in a symmetrical pyramid rather than a slope. Many songs contain unique portions at the beginning and end with a common element connecting them, making them cohesive even when reversed.

The transition from “You Could Feel The Sky” to “Diving Station” is almost seamless, as the sudden sound of the rubber band stretching leaves behind faint industrial oscillations. A feeling of being stuck takes over, suppressed by forces mechanical or otherwise. There is a light somewhere up there, but you know you’ll never be able to reach it.

The serine bells on “Over The Horizon Radar” are another excellent highlight. It sounds exactly like closing your eyes in a garden, feeling the wind pass over your skin, and letting the last of the days sunlight touch you as the sun lowers behind the trees.

This track fades into a repeated message: “We love you all,” a message made unsettling by television static and vocal distortion before being followed up with a far more uncanny message: “If you go down in the woods today, you’d better not go alone.”

Danger looms over this album. Everyone has felt scared before, and Boards of Canada knows this.

“Alpha and Omega” opens with an incredible synth and static combination, slowly introducing flute patterns, while a bubbly beat rages on in the foreground. The static subsides, and is replaced by a sea of of synth harmonies.

The wind, flutes, and whispers of “Opening The Mouth,” suggest the presence of something otherworldly- something that wants you to know it’s watching, but means no harm. Maybe its just your imagination.

Each “mini” track woven into Geogaddi is a microcosm for the overall feeling that the album explores. Each one a new angle examining the intersection of innocence and evil, of curiosity and regret, of youth and what it leaves behind. Everything you need to know about Geogaddi is right there on the cover: the pure happiness of a child becoming kaleidoscopically refracted and tinged until it’s something cold, sterile, and geometric.

“In The Annex” is a good example of this. It doesn’t need to be played forward for this to be conveyed either. It’s all in the music. It’s terrifying.

The main weakness of “Geogaddi” as a reversed album is the percussive elements. Every drum melts into a squashy squibble, losing entrancement along the way. The drums should be grimy and grainy. This is noticeable on tracks like “Dawn Chorus”, “Alpha And Omega,” and especially “Julie And Candy,” which has one of the strongest openings of any reversed track until the drums enter the mix.

There are also vocal sections that don’t work well backwards, like the “Energy Warning” segment that becomes unintelligible garble. It doesn’t help that it’s followed up by the most vocal intensive track on the album, “1969.”

In one case though, the backwards drums and vocals did make for an interesting addition. The track “Sunshine Recorder” has a slightly off-kilter rhythm when played forward, but backwards it’s even more bizarre. When this comes together with “ecalp lufituaeb A,” you can stand on the sky and watch the cars pass by on the road above you. Walking along the clouds brings you to “Dandelion,” a beautiful piece on the synth.

You were meant to hear “Dandelion” backwards.

The penultimate track “Music Is Math” slowly unfurls and furls its bright electric coat before concluding with “Ready Let’s Go,” a track that functions far better as a starting track than an ending track. We’re left with a single snuffed out buzz.


Is it as good as “Geogaddi” forwards? No. There’s a reason they didn’t release it this way. Does it still convey the same abstract feelings as “Geogaddi” forwards? Absolutely, and how many albums can claim the same?