Much of the criticism levied at Kanye West‘s Yeezus focuses on its darkness, the bleakness and rawness of its sonic vision, an almost unrelenting pall cast over ten tracks and only briefly punctured by random interjections, the occasional string section, and “Bound 2.” Without getting too deep into tirade territory and staying away from exploring current events any more than in passing, this criticism makes sense, but doesn’t seem to take into account context. The world now is as dark as ever and Kanye’s latest salvo–no matter how flawed or narcissistic you think it is–reflects a world grappling with ugly questions of race, civil rights, and security, questions we hoped had been solved by time and progress, only to see a darker, more complex truth emerge in recent weeks.
Chicago rapper Ibn Inglor has invested in dark sounds since we first happened upon him in February (coincidentally, a discovery made on a horribly blizzard-buried New York day) with the release of GawdsSpeed. On “Cold Storm,” he expands the formula that first proved intriguing, drawing influence from his ambitious, divisive fellow Chicagoan Mr. West. The production packs icy synths, thunderous drums, and plenty of atmospheric, industrial-quality scrape and squeak. Inglor’s rapping sounds tighter and sharper, energized by the warped sounds swirling around him. It’s certainly not going to please everyone, but those willing to take a dip into the darkness should find it a satisfying three minutes.
Right on for the darkness.