Review: SIR E.U and Tony Kill Weaponize Dissonance In Collaborative Album 'African-American Psycho'
“Get me out the way!” shouts SIR EU in the opening track of African-American Psycho. DC’s Rapper About Town strikes a fusion dance with daylighting NASA devOps, Tony Kill, interrupting Kill’s fast pace techno loop with... a cry for help? A call to arms? Unsolicited sexual advancement? I promise, it ain’t One of Those Thinkpieces™.
"I was sent from the heavens
to give you bitch ass n*ggas knowledge"
Texture is a good place to start. The synths: deranged yet calculated. The vocals: stretched out, tuned to taste--EU deftly matching Tony’s tempo and tone word for note. In “Ultra,” a steady talking drum keeps time as EU delivers another breathless verse over Captain Falcon sound bites. The 8-bit arcade medley rolls into an early MIA-esque loop, in a homage to the sample flip, Sir EU’s heavy breathing in the background contributing to a gradually increasing, though aesthetically muffled, sense of panic.
And, like...what’s more African-American than the ceaseless shift between bravado and paranoia? Lucidity and psychosis?
When you borrow your mom’s car to link with your plug, speakers blaring “Looks Deceiving” as the Minnie Riperton sample folds over itself, vanishes, appearing on the other end of Mr. Kill’s interface as melody-rich trap banger, you can’t help but whisper “yes”, gently, under your breath.
Yes, this IS what it sounds like: screams hushed by the 24-hour news cycle, exhausted groans from the gut of a McDonald’s ice cream machine, the ritualistic shit-talking session devoutly observed by those soon to throw hands over Super Smash Brothers. Tony Kill wields dissonance like an instrument, rifling through genres and samples without compromising coherence or worldbuilding.
Admittedly, sometimes Sir EU's verses escape me. Not in a “darned these mumble rapping whippersnappers” type of way. More punk rock, like “I don’t give a fuck what he’s saying because this is exactly how I feel every day I dance my way into a lecture hall furnished by prison labor.” In on the joke, carefully toeing the line between outright trolling while underscoring the absurdity of...well, everything, EU is serving Bad Brains meets Japanese Cartoon.
The 10-track project features a few noteworthy contenders in the DMV music underground. Techno artist LeDroit takes the otherwise tight ship for a joyride in “No Tax,” featuring a particularly mosh-friendly verse from Babe City Record emcee, Nappy Nappa. Other appearances include electronic artist Tooth Choir and experimental musician Pat Cain. Smart move, keeping the features light on a duo project. There are only so many ideas you can keep, even in a solo album.
The two artists at the helm complement each other stylistically despite the ever-present challenge of collaboration. Here, we witness hip-hop’s new guard striking out against an industry characterized by an almost defiant rejection of complexity. Where many emcees and producers seek familiar pastures, Tony Kill and Sir EU sound eager to slash and burn their way toward a post-hip hop aesthetic.
Plus, there’s a go-go track that’s jih like yeah.