Welcome to the Google music Hip-Hop Scanner, where we surface the most exciting new music and reissued gems in hip-hop that you can add to your locker for free.
Magnifier reports — Around the turn of the century there was a certain madness in parts of the rap underground. Acts like El-P, Aesop Rock and Antipop Consortium were at the forefront of New York rap’s avant-garde. Working with a palette that was more Atari Teenage Riot than A Tribe Called Quest, these acts prided themselves on an aesthetic that was overly wordy, proudly abstract and, most of all, sonically abrasive. At the time this chaos was heralded by certain critics as the future of rap but by the second half of the decade it was nearly forgotten by all but a narrowly cultivated and fenced off audience of diehards. While mainstream rap turned defiantly odder in the days of auto-tune and Lil Wayne, indie rap teeter-tottered towards a mellower vibe. The introverted and noodly boom-bap of J. Dilla and Madlib rose as the dominant underground sound and the themes shifted from chin stroking, catharsis and post-apocalyptic laments, to simpler joys like marijuana and rapping about rapping. All the while their more abrasive peers mostly went ignored by traditional hip hop listeners and even were derided by many of the cool kid critics who once comprised their core demographic.
But, as Q-Tip’s father once warned, things go in cycles. And thus, in 2011, chaotic noise rap once again reigns supreme over many of the hip-hop underground’s fragmented corners — from the scattershot teenage rampage of Odd Future (whose productions circumstantially have more in common with that turn of the century underground than they’d like to admit), to the more mature but twice as intense noise rap of Death Grips. Released quietly without ever being quiet, the San Jose collective’s Ex-Military LP operates under a simple but skull-shattering premise: bury rapper MC Ride in as much noise and clatter as possible and let him howl his way out primally.
Danny Brown is unexpectedly emerging as yet another indie rapper artist to embrace this madness. A product of the same Detroit scene that spawned Dilla, Danny cut his teeth recording alongside Dilla-influenced producers like Black Milk, but his exasperated wheeze and stop and go flow always seemed too aggressive for that template. His latest effort XXX mostly steps away from those roots in favor of digital blips and bursts of chainsaw buzzes.
Then there’s the recently reunited Anti-Pop Consortium. Arguably the strangest inhabitants of the New York underground, the group continues to trudge along quietly. Their “Volcano” from 2009′s Fluorescent Black is hookier and more dance friendly than most anything they produced in their heyday. At the time it seemed like their only logical bid for hipster relevance. Today it might make more sense for them to embrace their less accessible traits and aim for the noise. Chaos is, after all, cool once again. — Andrew Nosnitsky