According to their official website, Hijack Stories is a genreless duo made up of Rapper Stackie McClean and Producer Squid Jackalsen. Their style is a borderless ever-changing potpourri of sounds that traverses lightyears beyond your imagination. Their latest effort CHAPTER II is a 13-track project that is threaded by an apocalyptic storyline.
The opening “A Prologue” featuring Gnarly Gwar ushers listeners into this world filled with sentient beings interwoven with AI analogues, self-generating bits and data that pile up into a complex web of aural structures. The next track “London Absurd” is a punchy and driving track made up of synthetic drums, synthwave-styled textures underpinned by Stackie McClean’s monotone flow and off-kilter storying telling that drops listeners right in the middle of an adventure with lines like “I’m awesome, catch me a flight out of Boston/I’m hoping its hot but I’m coughing/Allergies I believe/dime please in Belize, she goe son her knees I’m looking”. “Flow” starts with a haunting and mellow piano riff and slowly builds up with steady hi-hats and a bright guitar lick while Stackie delivers an impassioned performance with an expressive cadence. The track finally rises to a plateau and explodes into an alternative pop-rock vibe before trailing off. “Interlude I” helps close out the first quarter with its instructional theme that helps listeners navigate this uncharted musical world filled with options.
“Prime Time Jelly” sets up the second quarter of the project with its rousing drum grooves, anthemic guitar arrangement and triumphant horns. Just as the title suggests, this is the celebratory tune for the travelling man going through a futuristic London landscape and soaking in the aesthetics. “Bump Stomp” featuring DJ Chizzle Beatz is a dub-step-inspired piece that starts with a sparse drum groove underpinned by Stackie’s commanding flow and stream-of-consciousness themes. “Interlude II” is a vox pop segment that explores public opinions about Artificial computers. The consensus here is the essence of having purpose and being able to free will one’s destiny instead of being shackled by unseen forces. This is followed by “Hillside Stop”, a sombre and cinematic piece made up of melancholic keys and a distorted synth that plays in the background. Again, Stackie flows effortlessly with his offbeat style and vivid storytelling.
The fun continues on the upbeat and rollicking “Viper” featuring Jayden Rock. The track has an 80s synthwave aesthetic and an urgent feel like driving through a futuristic sin-city with fluorescent lights. Rapper RED LO appears in “Interlude III”, this is the shortest interlude at 27 seconds and showcases Red Lo’s unapologetic performance in short bursts. “Paradise (All That I Need)” is a summer-tinged piece that explores inner peace and cleansing one’s mind away from the madness. The final track “123 Again” is a hard-hitting futuristic rock piece made up of a crisp electric guitar arrangement and a mantra-like chorus to match. The project closes out with the sombre “An Epilogue”featuring Gnarly Gwar once again who delivers a solemn melodic performance that reminds us that we are not alone in this vast universe.
In a nutshell, CHAPTER II, is as offbeat as they come and sticks to the AI, machine learning themes from start to finish. It might be hard to digest for some but if you are keen on music that strays completely from the norm and offers something refreshing and unhinged, give this one a listen.
Watch “123 Again” below
Stream CHAPTER II on all DSPs here.