SummaryKing Rhythm navigates a vast musical landscape. Always diverse and changing, this Baltimore, Maryland native transcends boundary by combining elements across the auditory spectrum to create his own truly unique form of hip hop. Musically, his style has always maintained specific aesthetics. Dirty beats, hard, funky, and aggresive are his foundation. Where previous works have focused on a more electronic and dancey sound, his latest album, Hardships & Head Trips, find him replacing the synth grooves with fuzzed out guitars and noisy drones to create a prog-hop album of psychedelic proportions. Inspired by Sonic Youth, The Secret Machines, TV On The Radio, Can and Miles Davis, his songs are expansive and evolving with multiple parts and extreme changes. Couple these elaborate instrumentals with lyrics and you'll hear what truly sets him apart. With heavy raps, reflective and analytical, his lyrics are often an accounting of what's wrong while eluding to the outlook that most can be made right. Some songs are cryptic, often needing multiple listens to gain ground for interpretation, while others are easily digestible with no room to wiggle, just stark and frank.
Hardships & Head Trips leads off with the epic opening track, No Magic/ Bangin' The Wall. This is the chronicling of King Rhythm's past up to the present. An odd timed lement that transforms halfway into the guitar feedback wail of Bangin' The Wall. Next, the densely layered headstrong indie rock challenge, Demolition Session 95, recalls a tense confrontation between King Rhythm and his devil's advocate. The conflict is nixed with, "It's do you get it? Not does it get you." Immediately, we're thrown into The Machinist. The track begins with a string and rock section that segues into the main theme. With a noisy siren-like guitar squeal and Sonic Youth drones that evoke factory machinery, the song describes the blurring of polarities relinquished to time.
In Operation features a guest appearance by Mush/ Big Dada artist k-the-i???. The song is established with a classical string motif followed by a Wurlitzer beat thump into a swirling hook, "What will be the answer/ for the cancer/ come and take a glance or/ die blinded." The song ends with a time signature shifting groove based on the original motif. The next two songs work in tandem. The Victims Fall & Our Hero follow the story of devolution and subsequent mental decline of a semi-fictitious character. In Victims, the character moves from politically cynical to a nightmarishly apocalyptic view of society deepended to a battle against his own hallucinatory self. Our Hero furthers the saga as the character awakens and finds himself transformed into an apathetic, paranoid, morose figure; a reflection of what society has done to him. Here we follow him as he ventures out into the city night. After, Future Museum epitomizes the dreamscape, atmospherically jazzy until the end explodes with a swirled-up and tripped-out rock escape. Mad And Hating is the surprisingly simple and catchy track. Its boom bap beat, guitar bamphs, and fuzzy melody lay the perfect footing for King Rhythm's tongue in cheek, hater sympathizing anthem. The album's instrumental closer, Current Floor, rides like a static wave breaking out. It's the final summation.