In today’s single-driven Hip-Hop market, concept albums are quickly becoming a thing of the past. But on Verbal Kent’s latest collaborative effort entitled Eat Them, he has bucked the prevalent commercial Hip-Hop trends, and crafted an ambitious release which pulls from the depths of Chicago’s battle rap scene.
The overarching idea behind Eat Them, simply stated, was to assemble a “supergroup of strange battle rappers, a cast of smart, aggressive MCs.” The resulting crew was dubbed Giraffe Nuts. Consisting of 10 battle-tested lyricists, including Rusty Chains, Lance Ambu, Alltruisms, Roadblok, Doomsday, E-Brown, Moodswangz, Kang the Konquerer, and Elfamail, Giraffe Nuts would seem, on the surface, to be a massive undertaking. But early in the album’s development, Kent charged the potential crew members with checking their egos at the door, effectively making each MC both a leader and a follower. For a concept as loaded as Eat Them, cultivating an environment which welcomed everyone’s ideas, no matter how ‘out there,’ would seem necessary for the group’s survival. From the jump, Kent told everyone “we are going to be really critical of each other in a positive way, and we’re going to see the best of each other.”
Surprisingly enough, the final product mirrors the drawing board. But before starting in with a listening session, you should toss out any thoughts of how a typical song is structured. First off, you’ll need to remember that these are battle cats, so they don’t need no hooks. Next, if you can’t stand skillfully assembled punch line, after punch line, then you best move on. So keeping those keys points in mind, it’s safe to hit ‘play.’
Eat Them is set within the walls of the fictional ‘Adler Sanitarium,’ with each MC spitting rhymes from within a straitjacket. Album opener “Trouble Ahead” serves as a crew introduction, prepping the listener for the insanity that follows. Lines like “Like David Berkowitz, my father was Sam / I don’t notice my nervous twitch with a revolver in hand” and “I’m sick enough to get drunk and start a Church fight” convey lucid lunacy over an eerily calm, string heavy beat.
Producer J-Zone drops in for a handful of tracks, “Senseless Hate” and the epic posse cut “Adler Sanitarium.” The latter ends the album, with its ‘carnival gone awry’ vibe which acts as the perfect backdrop for the song’s lyrical content. Here, the ‘patients’ have gathered for a group session with their psychiatrist ‘Dr. Murphey’ acting as mediator over their respective psychoses. The result is nothing but hilarious, not like ‘haha’ funny but more like ‘damn that shit is crazy.’ Imagine One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest if Jack Nicholson could rhyme. And that analogy is basically Eat Them in a nutshell, get your mind right before going in though, otherwise you’ll end up questioning your own sanity.
- DJ Trew
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