1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 414

I Want To Die In New Orleans, by $uicideboy$
Suggested by Krystian Muzstafa

What do I want from a Rap Album?

When I started appreciating Rap, back when Metal was waning and I quested for music with attitude, I required something shocking. I glommed onto old-school practitioners like Ice T and Ice Cube, believing the angrier the rapper, the better the rap. Eminem flipped the script, at least to this mainstream observer, and I gobbled his albums like mom’s spaghetti.

My tastes petrified in my twenties. I set the Rap albums I enjoyed on a pedestal. They were exemplars of the format, essential and bulletproof, to my atrophied ear. But while they remained constant, my tastes did not. Age mellowed me, and what was once a fervent desire for something bold or confrontational mutated into nothing more than a need for the song to be f**king legible.

The project had a clear effect on my under-developed Hip Hop glands. Early on, I couldn’t swing a gat without hitting a rapper or three, and any nascent enjoyment for the form was stomped out of my neck by the jackboot of Repetition. My scores dwindled, my eyes glazed.

So what do I appreciate in this genre? We can check the reviews past for Rapping Pleasantries, and hopefully apply them to future works in this milieu, commencing with today’s I Want To Die In New Orleans, by $uicideboy$.

I like my Rap albums to contain actual songs. Many modern rap albums contain the barest improvisational lo-fi backbeats, presumably letting the rap do heavy lifting. Happily, I can report that this album avoids this pit-trap with aplomb. Each track is a sharp, distinct whole. Second, I need my rap to be dextrous, and verbally deft. The $uicideboy$ deliver in this regard, offering a variety of styles and metres. There’s shouty Death Grips style screaming in WAR TIME ALL THE TIME, alongside soulful and reflective beats on Meet Mr NICEGUY and others. The two pertinent styles are the low and rasping understated whisper, and the almost French-sounding modulated and expressive delivery. They complement each other well.

I like my Rap albums to be understandable. So much modern Rap is mumbled expletives punctuated with trills and whoops. Here, $uicideboy$ aren’t quite as assured, although they still pass the test. It’s likely that their non-standard lyrical content helps, touching on suicide and depression alongside more hackneyed sexual and violent tropes, with freshness coming in the variety rather than the extremes at either end.

I appreciate Rap albums that have a sense of otherness, a feeling that there’s an attempt to step off the rutted path. I Want To Die In New Orleans delivers in spades, with a palpable sense of disquiet and oppression permeating every track. From the dull bass buzz of Bring Out Your Dead, through the barking lyric of my standout 10,000 Degrees, all the way to the hypnotic F**k the Industry, this album introduces the listener to the edge and keeps them teetering there indefinitely.

While it’s unlike the Rap albums of my relative youth, I Want To Die In New Orleans is also a departure from the sea of generic Rap albums that have pocked this project since its outset. It’s brash, bur reflective, and always interesting. I score it at 7/10, which even surprises me. Here’s hoping the future Rap offerings are similarly refreshing.

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