Album: My Idols Are Dead + My Enemies Are In Power
Record Label: Self-released
The underground Philly MC comes through with 14 tracks of protest music that are as heartfelt as they are necessary
It's been written before, by many commentators including myself, that the idea that torturous political climates spawn great music is a dubious one. The biggest counter to the aforementioned argument is that music is always there and is always an outlet for frustration and emotion. In that respect, the argument is rendered mostly void because people *turn* to music in troublesome times as a way of expressionism rather than revolution.
Though anti-establishment ethics are deeply embedded in hip-hop more so perhaps than any other genre, Philadelphia rapper Lushlife's new LP, My Idols Are Dead + My Enemies Are In Power (all proceeds from which go to the ACLU) genuinely feels like a call to arms. In the possession of someone less creative and less verbose, much of the content here might come across as preachy, but as Lushlife, together with a hand-picked selection of philosophers, poets and professors, delivers this forthrightly socialist rhetoric, it feels both heartfelt and completely necessary.
Right from the start and first track proper 'OOOUUU', Lushlife's fearsome literary knowledge and captivating cadence come as a swift jab to the gut as he references Middle Eastern warfare, Cormac McCarthy and Dr. Strangelove seamlessly. 'No Dead Languages (Vocal Mix)' feels irrepressibly bleak, with Lushlife barely stops short of suggesting that the battle is already lost over a beat-less instrumental powered by mournful strings.
'The Heart Is An Atomic Bomb' is a virtuosity drenched highlight of hard-nosed boom-bap. "I'm just a martyr, an unstoppable human weapon so when I spread like a virus they gon' get to steppin'" he spits before essayist & writer Porochista Khakpour's poignant ode to self-sacrifice and the need to survive gives way to Billy Woods, who brilliantly summarises the paranoia of our time: "You shoot your girl for flirting/ You shoot your man 'cause you can't be sure he ain't snitchin'".
The gambit from British writer Nikesh Shukla on 'Julie Profuno (Brexit Planet Dust)' makes the transatlantic link and emphasises the danger of ignoring the increasingly deep-set fascism in Western society. The aggressively dissonant, clanging production on 'I Seen It Before, I Was There' provides the perfect backbone to a mystically brilliant verse from Moor Mother. Lushlife's gritty perception of reality comes to life on 'O Glowing Hunter' as he raps "the reality is that reality is to play with, the Mexicans a metaphor and UFO's are slave ships".
'11 Theses + Anthropocene Dream' is entirely comprised of an intensely moving gambit by Prof. Jebediah Purdy in which he outlines eleven complex, emotional and humanistic ideas for a more equal society free from tyranny and fear, made even more poignant by the beautiful instrumental that grows as the track progresses.
Despite all its heftiness, My Idols Are Dead... never gets lost in its depth or meaning. It always feels urgent, always righteous in its world view but sensitive in its empathy. It's about as direct an addressing as there could be of these issues, but more it seems to be that that's becoming what's needed.
Key Tracks: 'The Heart Is An Atomic Bomb', '11 Theses + Anthropocene Dream', 'No Dead Languages (Vocal Mix)'
For Fans Of: Blu, P.O.S.