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billy woods - Aethiopes Music Album Reviews

billy woods - Aethiopes Music Album Reviews
The rapper’s latest album is a clear mid-career apex that shoves his always outlandish style into territories further afield than ever before.

Rapper billy woods attacked his 2012 album History Will Absolve Me from the mindset that it could be the curtain call on his career. If the project failed, the Fidel Castro-invoking title would serve as a final message to an industry that rejected him, and he’d disappear into New York’s abandoned subway tunnels, never to be heard from again. A perennial figure in the city’s alt-rap scene, woods had been defined by his association with Cannibal Ox’s Vordul Mega and as half of Super Chron Flight Brothers, alongside Privilege. But woods didn’t become an underground king as he’d hoped and seemed destined to be just another Gotham rapper who fell out of orbit.

Then with help from what was by that point an ailing rap blogosphere, History Will Absolve Me achieved cult classic status. woods seized the opportunity to forge a reputation as one of the fiercest rappers in New York, and Backwoodz Studioz, the label he founded in 2002, became a kingdom for outsiders and alternative thinkers who didn’t fit in anywhere else on the rap landscape. Earlier this month, the label released a 10-year anniversary edition of the still-chilling History Will Absolve Me, calling it the album that single-handedly kept its lights on. In its wake is Aethiopes, a clear mid-career apex that shoves woods’ always outlandish style into territories further afield than ever before.

It’s not easy to pull a maverick like woods further into the mire, certainly not after the sorcerous brilliance of last year’s Haram. Required is a collaborator draped in enchantments and silk; an eclectic crate digger who shares his phosphorescent tendencies. Fortunately, there is Preservation, a selective producer two decades deep in the game whose previous lives have seen him serve as Yasiin Bey’s tour DJ, join forces with Ka for the disorienting Days With Dr. Yen Lo, and record an album composed entirely of samples unearthed in Hong Kong. With Preservation behind the boards on every track, Aethiopes skids across eras, countries, and cultures. It begins with “Asylum” and the swirling sounds of piano keys, delicate guitars, and snaking brass riffs that appear sourced from old North East Africa or Middle Eastern music. The song follows woods as he assumes the role of a boy living under the cloud of battling parents within a gated residence, watching the unusual activities of a new neighbor with Hitchcockian obsession.

A lyricist whose hieroglyphics typically require work to crack, woods often writes from shifting perspectives, weaving in poignant imagery, strange motifs, and seemingly personal elements. On “Protoevangelium,” he gives details about a party in Chinatown spent smoking cigars and spotting Julius Erving. woods has always rapped with unbreakable forward movement—flowing in long sentences, never dwelling too long on any syllable—that lends itself well to storytelling. But these days, he finds the pocket a little better, seemingly more mindful about running over margins or bumping up against beats.

Preservation’s instrumentals are minimalist, with samples not always arranged in solid, repeating loops, but instead feel like they’re floating around the room. “The Doldrums” deploys a small number of slow-moving elements—twangy fret play, bassy hammer-ons—to form a dusty beat that summons feelings of the cinematic Wild West. Similarly, the Sergio Leone-evoking “Christine” includes some before-the-bullets-fly tension, the vinyl hissing like rain as woods plays a high plains drifter in a dirty trench coat. Then there’s the doom march of “Sauvage,” featuring guest verses from Boldy James and Gabe ’Nandez. The steady beep resembles a life support machine, ramping up the sense of anxiety as woods raps about kids caught up in bad situations: a boy entering 11th grade having already beaten a case for shooting a violent uncle; parents who are forced to kick their child out of the family home before the house is shot up. “NYNEX” sets out a bleak vision for the future with flashes of harmonica that sound like music from a hobo living in dystopia.

The Backwoodz ethos has attracted a million Def Jux comparisons, which aren’t inaccurate but perhaps outdated. Whereas El Producto and his company heaved 1990s brass knuckles New York rap as subterranean as it would go, Backwoodz’ can feel totally adrift of time or linearity. It’s a crew that refuses to glance backwards—in 2022, there are no obvious analogs to Backwoodz. Still, it’s exciting to hear woods join forces with El-P and Breeze Brewin of Juggaknots, a veteran of another sadly perished independent rap institute in Fondle ‘Em, on “Heavy Water.” On this crossover episode, the trio share the mic like it’s a game of pass the parcel: El-P expresses confusion at Google Chrome, and woods calls himself the “multiverse Benzino,” a hilarious reference to one of rap’s most unpalatable villains of the 2000s.

The album’s final stretch encapsulates its elaborate brilliance. On “Remorseless,” Preservation lines up the otherworldly Moog sounds while woods delivers a broad benediction on the lessons he’s learned over the years; closer “Smith + Cross” is built around a piercing guitar sample that lends it an appropriately epic feel. You can picture woods standing at a new zenith. As it turns out, it wasn’t history that absolved him but his own grand aspirations, belatedly recognized in his own time.

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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.
billy woods - Aethiopes Music Album Reviews billy woods - Aethiopes Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, April 18, 2022 Rating: 5

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