B L A C K I E, Spred Luv

B L A C K I E, Spred Luv

There is nothing about B L A C K I E that is not singular. Despite his undeniable affinity and devotion to his native geography and his home in Chemical City (Pasadena) in particular, the solo endeavor of the man born Michael LaCour stands out as stark as the all-caps-with-spaces typography of his name. His reconstitution of the gruff rhyming and pirate-radio production of UK Grime in the snotty snarl of Gulf Coast Grindcore and slurred smear of chopped n’ screwed rap alike, rendered live through a homebuilt sound system with unrelenting kinesis on the mic, possesses no parallel, either at home or abroad.

This identity has been firmly confirmed on his most recent EP, Spred Luv. On his previous release, Wilderness Of North America, LaCour broke up raging raps like “I Write On Money” and “B L A C K I E…Is Still Alive” with several weary, introspective beatscapes. There are no such stretches here. Opening track “Stay Up” starts off with an ominous, wobbling bassline that begs the question of what kind of insanity would come from B L A C K I E toasting over dubstep slabs with Mala or Loefah. “B L A C K I E…Would Not Even Spit This” and “Nothing Stopping” twists up horrorshow synths, orchestral samples, and whale-sized low-end whamps between stuttering MPC rhythms (always on the verge of being out of time, lending the entire album a thrilling, staggering swing), with a ferocity that threaten to flatten entire council estates. LaCour has definitely spent some time with Rinse FM.

The real production genius of Spred Luv is the generous layer of distortion ladled over everything. Reportedly mixed entirely on Joe Mathlete’s four-track, the EP sees LaCour applying the kind of in-the-red sonic maximizing that one hears on cassettes from beachside soundclashes and basement hardcore shows to the recording proper, bringing it one step closer to catching the unbelievable catharsis of B L A C K I E’s live sets.

If Spred Luv‘s sound reflects a step forward for the B L A C K I E juggernaut, its lyrics reveal a man sharpening his wits and his knives in a self-declared assault on the whole world and everything in it. As on Wilderness, his words follow two distinct trajectories, the aggressive and the introspective. Unlike Wilderness, they are woven together even closer, alternating sometimes from verse to verse.

All those shows have made B L A C K I E a monster of an MC, and he flexes his skills all over Spred Luv. Over and over again, he shouts out the relentless, resourceful quest for success from the bottom to the top with the deadly-serious conviction that he deserves — the canonical definition of style. He makes perfunctory references to the hip-hop tropes of money and women, but he’s most convincing when he relates his greatest ambitions and deepest doubts. It is difficult to convey the power of songs like “My Window” or “I Don’t Wear Sneakers” without writing out the entire lyric sheet, so just know that this album is full of lines like these:

    “Scars what i’m given
    why you make life so hard God
    don’t you know how we’re living
    so now its scars that i’m giving
    don’t act hard fraud cause i know how you’re living
    my eyes keep tearing
    no one can tell i got a lead suit i’m wearing”
    “I used to sneak outside my house
    but there wasn’t nobody home so i guess it doesn’t count
    curfew
    curb view
    pocket full of paint about to bust through my jeans/better bomb it clean
    hope nobody heard you/bird’s eye view
    i’m fly i’m high
    marijuana perfume”

And what song could be more devastatingly honest than “Fukwar (B L A C K I E…is Afghanistan),” with a refrain like “I broke her heart / so she fucked my friends” and ends with the tongue-twisting

    “Blame hanged
    Same games playin’
    Pain
    Layin’ lame
    Brain changed
    I ain’t mad at you girl
    Don’t hate yourself for what you’ve done”

?

Already released on CD-R, Spred Luv is available today on a one-sided, black-and-white marbled LP in anticipation of the B L A C K I E/LIMB tour. Like the album, this review has left me exhausted and out of words. If you have any question as to whether Houston has an uncompromising, singular voice cutting through all the hype and chatter, do yourself a favor and spend the next seven days with Spred Luv on repeat.

Feature photo by Carol Ann Sandin.

[B L A C K I E is playing his tour kickoff show 6/18/10 at El Rincon Social (3210 Preston), along with LIMB, Giant Princess, Somosuno, Cosmic Sound, Featherface, & Hadrian & Antonius.]
(self-released; B L A C K I E -- http://www.myspace.com/blackieblackieblackie)
BUY ME: BandCamp

Review by . Review posted Friday, June 18th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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3 Responses to “B L A C K I E, Spred Luv

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend: LIMB (Reviewed!) + B L A C K I E (Reviewed!) + Raekwon + Paris Falls + Screwtape + Resonant Interval + Tool + More on June 18th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    […] musings on the LIMB and B L A C K I E releases, you can do that very thing right over here and here. Have at […]

  2. Max on June 20th, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I have the cassete, cd , and vinyl of spread luv :D B L A C K I E KICKS ASS

  3. FAT TONY on June 22nd, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Excellent review, great record!

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