This Week in Rap: Ketchy the Great, Serengeti, and Sameflannel

Sameflannel, Heart Piece One

Our horror tales about synthetic intelligence — not less than for now — often go like this: some sensible however hubristic engineers prepare dinner up a program and let it run for some time, jot impressed notes, apply for extra grants, then shut the entire thing down when the A.I. begins to behave in sudden methods. The concept, we’re advised, is that machines will discover ways to assist us optimize transport routes and diabetes drugs, find out how to construct Impalas and analyze markets and customarily Maximize Shareholder Value. But when the pc begins speaking to itself in a shorthand solely it may possibly perceive, the lab coats understandably lose their nerve. It doesn’t take a lot of a wandering thoughts to think about the worst-case state of affairs: an extremely highly effective machine that wishes us lifeless.

The counterpoint, so to talk, is Heart Piece One. The mixtape, which is appropriately accessible solely on Soundcloud, is what you'll get in the event you set a machine to ingest and internalize the digital-native rap from the start of this decade, the Cash Money and Roc-a-Fella catalogues from the top of the ’90s, Lil B’s tweets that aren’t about toes, and the crippling weight of the pharmaceutical business, then forgot about that machine for 5 years too lengthy. Its tagged style is “cloud rap,” which is honest however reductive. It fuses onto these hazy, ethereal beats raps which might be slightly bit extra linear and tightly wound, and in doing so walks a really troublesome line — making an archly underground style extra parsable to unfamiliar audiences with out sanding down its musical tics.

Sameflannel is a rapper from the Twin Cities; he’s white and in his early 20s and works out of Northeast Minneapolis, which has grow to be a artistic hub. His writing is private, however doesn’t work in lots of shards of what you would possibly name laborious autobiography: you don’t really feel as if the actual him, however you may see him bathed within the glow of a tv, taking part in Zelda in the course of the night time and wishing he was in D-Block with Jadakiss, nervous and Googling “is liver harm reversible.” He stretches the “Ha” hook into free-form poetry, raps over digital camera flashes on a music referred to as “Keep Watch!”, and grafts local weather panic onto ’90s R&B. And he does all this with out Heart Piece ever seeming like pastiche, or coming off as too beholden to its influences; all of the issues Sameflannel interpolates and calls again to are warped on their method into his unusual, tight orbit.

The document is haunted by the reminiscence of Widikus, a really proficient rapper from the Twin Cities who died in early 2016. (He and Sameflannel, who was then rapping underneath the title John Daniel, shaped a duo referred to as LEFTGODS.) There are stray mentions of each Widikus’s stage and given names, and a gnawing apart about his funeral. It grounds the tape in grief, a collage caught in mud.

Ketchy the Great, Free Sauce

The greatest rap album of 2017 was Drakeo the Ruler’s Cold Devil, which got here out that Christmas and have become an honest-to-God phenomenon in Los Angeles final 12 months — in the event you had been out and about sufficient, you possibly can hear each single minimize from that document in DJ units. And that’s good, as a result of it was the one method Drakeo may keep a presence within the metropolis in 2018: he spent many of the 12 months in jail, awaiting trial on expenses of first-degree homicide, tried homicide, and conspiracy to commit homicide. (He’s nonetheless there, having been denied bail a number of occasions.) And it’s not simply Drakeo. His fellow Stinc Team members Ketchy the Great, SaysoTheMac, Bambino, and his brother, Ralfy the Plug, additionally spent nearly all the 12 months locked up on a wide range of expenses. Almost all of them are nonetheless inside.

As a vocalist, Ketchy is a perfect group member — that’s not a slight, it’s a testomony to how his supply, growling and unhinged, provides a jolt of power to songs and attracts out totally different components of a beat. Free Sauce, which he simply dropped from behind bars, presents Ketchy in widescreen: a solo artist who’s capable of ratchet his depth up and down sufficient to make the document really feel balanced and complete. (See his verse on “Something I Did,” the place he rubber bands forwards and backwards from quiet poise to uncooked, raspy shouts.) There are careening virtuoso performances (“Act a Fool”), mission statements for his group’s subgenre (“Nervous Music”), and surefire L.A. hits (“Ling Ling Bop Same Thing”). In an more and more crowded scene, Free Sauce argues for Ketchy as a magnetic artist who can stand on his personal.

That mentioned, it helps that the document is, in L.A. phrases, star-studded. There are collaborations with guys Bambino and Ralfy in addition to the beloved weirdo Desto Dubb and the red-hot Shoreline Mafia. Then there’s that trio(!) of duets with the now-incarcerated 03 Greedo, whose warbled verses play cat-and-mouse with Ketchy’s growl to exceptional impact.

Serengeti, Kaleidoscope 2 & 6e Features from Berlin

Serengeti is a nightmare for completists. There are cassette-only one-offs and important albums which have fallen out of print — which is to say nothing of the albums underneath totally different stage names, or those conceived to spherical out the fictional worlds he created on different LPs. A pair of quick, obscure dispatches from the subversive Chicagoan at the moment are on-line.

Kaleidoscope 2 is a collection of 4 songs that lean closely into bubblegum pop and, at some factors (like within the first rapped verse of “Plastic Pearls”) even interpolate the swing of some up to date rap radio cadences. The EP works for a similar cause Geti’s experiments in character and style have all the time labored: he commits absolutely. There are not any jokes in regards to the kind and he by no means winks on the digital camera. These are shimmering pop songs that, sure, embody his idiosyncratic writing and unhappy hotel-room tableaus, however are plausible as earnest performs for Top 40.

6e Features From Berlin ropes in visitor vocalists (Jenny Lewis, Christian Lee Hutson) to reimagine two songs from final fall’s Dennis 6e, the climactic document in Geti’s years-long Kenny Dennis saga, which focuses on a middle-aged white rapper from Chicago fallen on laborious, or not less than humble occasions. The authentic LP is considered one of his darkest, most harrowing releases. The new, dreamlike vocal takes right here make its central story — that of a person who has damaged from actuality to protect no matter scraps of sanity he has left — all of the extra jarring.