Die A Little
Little Whore Records
This fifth Little Whore Records release from Edmonton’s Corvid Lorax elegantly demonstrates the broad creative possibilities of the hip hop genre.
With big props to hardboiled novelists like James M Cain, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Die A Little is crafted in the form of a cinematic rap noir by Lorax and collaborators DJ Weezl, organist Édrihan Lévesque, rapper Maigan van der Giessen (Eshod ibn Wyza, Tzadeka) and producer Madame Wang (Mark Czuba).
Structured around a shadowy soundscape that pays a brilliant homage to decades of jazz exploration, Die A Little moves from swing through bebop with heavy slatherings of cool and free jazz. This bop heavy sound sculpture is then fortified with funky electro beats and afro percussion workouts gang jammin’ with Édrihan Lévesque’s chunky organ grooves and DJ Weezl’s abstract and atmospheric scratch freestyles.
To this Madame Wang incorporates healthy samples of vintage pulp film dialogue that sets the narrative for each song on the recording. Each track operates as an individual biography for a sordid array of characters one would commonly find lurking in the dark corners of a prohibition era back alley booze can.
Populated with punch drunk boxers, corrupt social servants, grifters, gamblers, juicers, molls, dock workers, kingpins, hop heads, femme fatales and crooked cops, each character is uniquely portrayed through Lorax’s multidimensional rhyme stylizations.
An incredibly seasoned hip hop practitioner Lorax adopts the persona of each cast member with the charisma of a gifted character actor dropping a slurry of rhymes that serve to encapsulate the back story of his criminal suspects.
Long time Lorax collaborator MC Maigan van der Giessen (Tzadeka) lays down a handful of tone perfect characterizations with great confidence and style. Her soulful vocal accents and smooth rhyme monologues perfectly blend with the album’s flavourful stew of acoustic drums, bass and brass swimming in Madame Wang’s bumpin’ electronic distillations.
For me, Die A Little is a brilliant piece of hip hop artistry. The recording not only showcases the accomplished writing and vocal chops of some very gifted Canadian MCs but it also serves to showcase the unlimited potential of audio sampling and digital arrangement software when in the hands of such creative collectives.
Beyond all that, when one considers how materialism and the romanticizing of modern gangster culture has come to dominate mainstream hip hop music, Corvid Lorax’s choice to create a jazzed out hardboiled hip hop pulp crime concept album does not for one minute escape my incredibly dry sense of humour.
Get it now at littlewhorerecords.com or on Bandcamp.
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