(Top Dawg Entertainment)
Kendrick Lamar’s last album -To Pimp a butterfly (2015) is one of the most revered album of the last decade. The lyrics were ferocious, ingenious and poetic, the delivery was breathlessly breath taking, and the sound took rap and hip-hop into funkier and jazzier territories. Even Obama was a fan.
The follow up is a starker affair. Stripped of the soulful pleasantries, DAMN is Hip Hop at its most direct, just look at the song titles: BLOOD, PRIDE, LUST, FEAR, GOD (all in caps). Lamar’s lyrics are a dextrous and innovative outpouring of his personal and political convictions and concerns (of which, unsurprisingly, there are many).
DAMN shows Kendrick Lamar as a master storyteller. The closer (DUCKWORTH), includes some of the finest lyrics he has written (‘Pray with the hooligans, shadows all in the dark/Fellowship with demons and relatives, I’m a star). His lyrics alone will be pored over for years. DAMN is an amazing chapter in his story.
(Nyege Nyege Tapes)
Some albums, like DAMN by Kendrick Lamar, arrive with the a ceremonial red carpet treatment, pages upon pages of genius.com are filled with reverential analysis of every syllable whilst metacritic.com explodes with earnest opinions. Other albums sneak in unnoticed through the back door with no hype, no fanfare, nothing.
The debut album from Nihiloxica definitely falls into the second category. Only 100 cassettes of the four track album have been released on Kampala’s Nyege Nyege Tapes (although there's a link to the digital download at the end of the review). It is the intoxicating, pulsating sound of Bugandan drumming, mixed with eerie, unsettling synth noises.
Opener Nilo Chug mixes pounding drum circles with disorienting electronic sounds, they make for strange sonic bedfellows, but the overall effect is captivating.
Choir Chops adds vocals into the mix to create an unnervingly avant garde experience. The mesmerizing Endongo is less unnerving, the analog synths and the pulsating percussion interweave perfectly. Finally Kadodi is a frantic stomp which end with one of the band shouting an exhausted 'Fuck!' It's understandable.
Clocking in at just over 26 minutes, this is a tantalising introduction to the darkly brilliant world of Nihiloxica.
For further details:
The countdown so far on YouTube
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.