If you’re like me and you feel like present-day hip-hop could use a little more boom bap (I don’t understand listeners who think the boom bap sound is dated because it never went away), Hark, the third album by New York’s The Doppelgangaz, will satisfy your boom bap quotient. In this concise album (clocking in at a whopping 37 minutes), MC/producers Matter ov Fact and EP skillfully craft ominous and stripped-down soundscapes that often evoke horrorcore.
But other than references in the lyrics to EP’s “chode smell” and certain vile medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and cold sores, Hark is far from horrific and terrifying. The rubbing alcohol-guzzling duo’s self-deprecating rhymes and amused reactions to the debauchery they refer to as “smang life” in the Hark track of the same name all bring to mind the equally self-deprecating, fascinated-with-the-filth routines of stand-up comic Dave Attell.
Like in their previous albums, 2012: The New Beginning and Lone Sharks, Matter ov Fact and EP frequently refer to themselves in the third person (“He got cirrhosis of the liver from the 80 proof/Folliculitis make his neck look like a Baby Ruth”) and are our enthused–and cloaked-out–guides to a grimy but non-violent world of brothels and hard living. “We got hygiene problems and I guess we don’t take care of ourselves, henceforth a lot of medical problems,” said EP to MTV Hive about the new album’s frequent descriptions of the medical consequences of vagrancy and hard partying, from folliculitis (don’t Google image search it–it’s nasty) to the elbow bursitis that afflicts EP in Hark‘s second single, the cleverly written “Oh Well.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard bursitis mentioned in a hip-hop track, let alone any kind of track, outside of Al Bundy and his elderly musician friends singing a “We Are the World” parody about how “We are the ones who wear bifocals and have bursitis.” That’s an example of how unique and original The Doppelgangaz are as storytellers. If you’re a straight-up germophobe like Flex Alexander’s rapper character in Snakes on a Plane, you might as well stay away from Hark. But you’ll miss out on vivid and effective wordplay (“Yo, he bagged a cougar named Mabel at the Peter Luger’s table/Or was it at a Bruegger’s Bagel?”), as well as underground boom bap at its illest.
Hark is available now from Groggy Pack Entertainment.