New York producer A.M. Breakups and his Reservoir Sound record label reside on the cutting edge of the region’s progressive hip hop groundswell. The collective’s talent has been apparent for a while now but they’ve lacked a definitive project to this point. That is all set to change with the release of A.M.’s joint effort with New York MC Elucid. Going by Cult Favorite, A.M. and Elucid are one of those producer/rapper combos that seem like they were made for each other. Elucid has built a buzz through a series of projects featuring his gruff, intelligent style over abrasive, glitchy production. I’ve always been a fan of his straightforward delivery, but some of the busier electronic beats on his releases made it hard for his vocals to make the proper impact.
When I heard A.M. Breakups would be lending his ever-evolving sound to a full length project with Elucid and listened to a couple songs they created for Backwoodz Studioz’ Cost of Living compilation, I got excited. After hearing their album preview mix The Kingdom a few months later, their debut LP immediately became one of my most anticipated releases of 2012. A.M. Breakups’ beats aren’t a 180 from the type of beats Elucid rocked on in the past, but Breakups attention to detail assures that Elucid’s verses don’t get lost in his atmospheric soundscapes. Both artists seem to strive for a post-apocalyptic edge to their sound. All of the songs found on The Kingdom not only achieve that edge, but are so impressive it’s a wonder they didn’t make the full length album.
A.M. Breakups’ production is particularly impressive on The Kingdom, maybe his best batch of beats yet. He constantly has me asking where he gets the various sounds he utilizes on every beat, but on these tracks he takes it a step further by truly building his effects around Elucid’s serpentine verses. Every beat has a solid, rhythmic base, but Breakups lifelike samples levitate around Elucid’s vocals, giving the music a three dimensional feel. The opening track “Heavy Metal (Version)” has the type of grinding beat I couldn’t see anyone but Breakups making, accentuated by his alternating swirls and jingles that create a strong visual beneath Elucid’s metaphorical musings- “I’m lost but still on course, fuck the anchor”.
Elucid’s content-rich flow is as assured and versatile as it’s ever been, and it’s obviously the focus of the music here. His sharp, rhythmic criticisms combined with Breakups’ spacey beats almost make him sound like a repulsed alien who’s been observing injustices from afar and compiling an audio journal. Elucid has a way of making every song sound like an opus with his cryptic, probing verses. He doesn’t wow you with an astounding vocabulary or delivery, but he’s found a way to use his unique voice and creative perspective/thought-process to his advantage. Clear cut song meanings can be tough to pin down, but each line is carefully crafted and contains its own (usually subversive) context. Check out the 20 minute, 8 track (one mp3) mix The Kingdom below and gear up for the full length Cult Favorite LP, due later this fall on Reservoir Sound.
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Written by John Bugbee