Angry Blackmen Are Done With the “Bullshit!”

via Joseph Torres

Over the past decade, especially since 2013, there’s been quite a drastically shifting, crimson tide in hip hop. For every rapper who turns into a popstar, an artist like Jpegmafia or Vince Staples comes up and serves as an act who pushes the tide back to balance of consciousness. The problem with this? Well, with pop rap dominating the charts, many casual listeners would be (and, in my experience, have been) quick to dismiss something more conscientious a la Peggy or Injury Reserve due to the content being regarded as “too experimental” or “too brash” for much airplay. Quite frankly, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the bullshit.

So are Angry Blackmen.

No, that’s not a blanket statement: Angry Blackmen are a rising Chicago-based "super-duo" composed of rappers Brian Warren and Quentin Branch, who have been inspired by the waves of alternative rap and hip-hop that came before them to create something musically fresh in their hometown. Within their own D.I.Y. ethics and community, the duo have steadily built up some buzz locally in the Chicago rap scene for the past few months, due to their intense “no bullshit” attitude.

Speaking of “no bullshit” attitude, it wasn’t until I came across their newest single “Bullshit!” through Twitter that I caught on to the wave these guys are pushing through. While the duo are still relatively unknown outside of their musical periphery, the potential for Angry Blackmen to resonate with a much larger audience is possible and is quite already happening. Teaming up with collaborator/producer Wendigo, the group are blunt in their delivery, depicting their personalities and everyday lives through everything from run-ins with corrupt, profiling cops, all the way to aspirations and dreams of winning a Grammy for the family. It's through lyrics like “put that on my life // i’m just rapping what i go through" where you really feel the heart and personality that are shining through what these guys are doing. The hook is easily the most earworm-y, gripping part of the track; I can confirm that it has been playing in my head the entire time I’ve been writing this piece. You can stream this track straight from their SoundCloud here.

But it was when I was going back and looking through what the duo have put out before, expecting more fun, bouncy material that I found the true gem: a previous song that stuck out even more than I could have imagined. The music video for Angry Blackmen’s “RIOT!” may be one of the most underrated low budget music videos to come out of America this year and, I’d even be the guy to argue, this decade. The video opens up with a title card into film homages toward Mike Judge’s Office Space and its famous “printer destruction scene” as well as tastefully replicating imagery from Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, which includes a grim, modernized replication of the movie’s iconic opening shot. The lyricism is even more put on spotlight, with both individual members’ personalities being shown to the highest extent, delivering line after line of creative energy. The video sees the duo engaging the viewer in a near-personal tone, with the droning, uproarious hook ringing to the listener, “Are you down to start a riot? // Are you down to start a war?” with complete conviction from them both. While in 2018 there’s a lot to keep on your radar, make sure Angry Blackmen are near the top of your musical priority list. With a start this sonically calculated and lyrically contemplated, these guys will be a duo you will definitely hear more of as time unfolds.

"Riot!" music video:


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