Zebra Katz - Less Is Moor Music Album Reviews

Eight years after “Ima Read,” the club rapper’s debut album channels the ferocity of that breakout single across a maelstrom of different styles while keeping his central shit-talking identity intact.

The seed for Less Is Moor, the razor-sharp debut album from rapper Zebra Katz, was planted over a decade ago. The Jamaican-American artist born Ojay Morgan studied liberal arts at Eugene Lang College in New York, where he took drama classes, and, as one of the few black people ever in the room, was consistently typecast for roles. Morgan designed a rebuke in the form of his 2007 senior thesis, “Moor Contradictions,” a brashly playful and incisive commentary on the Moorish characters in Shakespeare works, delivered as a one-man performance through different black identities.

One of them was the sharp-witted Zebra Katz, a character who would create funny, off-the-cuff raps out of any subject the audience tossed out at him. After footage of the character picked up traction online, Morgan kept Katz alive by self-producing low-end-driven backdrops for his deep, hypnotizing flow. By 2012, Morgan had perfected the formula and forged a full-on queer cultural moment with “Ima Read,” a deadly ballroom cut picked up by Diplo’s Mad Decent label that remains the clearest vision of the Zebra Katz persona: club-ready, tongue-in-cheek, and perpetually willing and able to cut you down to size.

After a minimalist mixtape in 2013 and a collaboration and tour with Gorillaz in 2017, Morgan hunkered down in Berlin to reflect on the Zebra Katz character five years after his breakout, and to plot his debut album. The resulting, independently released Less Is Moor is an unflagging statement on the complexities of Katz’ personality, arriving on a maelstrom of industrial, drum’n’bass, and noise production. The club remains Katz’ sanctum, but here he relishes different styles, whether emotively singing over an acoustic guitar on the wistful “Necklace” or slowing his breakneck pace down to match an unnerving metronomic rhythm on the spacious “Lousy.” The restless ethos, winding between high-energy club gems and sawtoothed electronic interludes, seems to rid Morgan of inhibitions, allowing him to experiment with free rein.
Hearing Zebra Katz in his shit-talking element drives Less Is Moor’s most dynamic moments. On standout “In In In,” he traipses through his fashion credentials before adopting a Missy Elliott-style flow to make demands to the dancefloor, while sinister air horns and rolling drums from producer Tony Quattro feed his fire. The eerie, perfectly arrogant “Ish” injects Katz’s venom with humor: “Go off, fuck bitch/You don’t really know ish,” he raps in monotone over swells of distorted bass and anxious sirens. “First thing, own it/I’m the shit, you the piss.” It’s quintessential Zebra Katz: flexing, fanged, ready to throw clubgoers into delirium. Later he recruits London rapper Shygirl for the batshit “Lick It N Split,” where the two trade increasingly demented sex raps over gut-punching drums and carnivalesque synths from Sega Bodega. It sounds like a panic attack, but the giddy sense of humor throughout is like catching a buzz from a pair of extremely stoned friends.

With back-to-back club songs, Less Is Moor can fall into a routine even as it explores the varying extremes of Katz’ persona. He spits over a keening whistle on the repetitive deep cut “Sleepn,” and stays on a similar autopilot for “Been Known” despite its delightfully screwy, bass-heavy backdrop. But the album’s highs far outnumber its lows. Katz reels off a merciless freestyle on “Zad Drums,” a highlight with pummeling subterranean drums and an echoing horror-movie vocal. “I got so fuckin’ high last night I kicked myself out of Berghain,” he growls, like he’s telling a story at an after-the-club house party where anything feels possible.

That unbridled energy carries Less Is Moor and allows Katz to move wherever his curiosities allow, even in the direction of an indie ballad on “Necklace,” the album’s hushed centerpiece. “I keep on wishin’ I was next,” he sings in a gentle rasp, “Suffer through all of your sweet neglect/Took all my lovin’ for innocence.” It’s a bracing moment of respite between stark club tracks, revealing a vulnerability to the image of Zebra Katz that is both earned and unexpected.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Zebra Katz - Less Is Moor Music Album Reviews Zebra Katz - Less Is Moor Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, April 06, 2020 Rating: 5

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