Armand Hammer artists billy woods and Elucid have been busy and it’s hard to believe how much work they’ve accomplished this year. We all know that every artist is constantly working on their craft, but having their voices headlining four albums/mixtapes in one year is a mind-boggling number. Before dropping the collaborative album RACE MUSIC, woods came out with the album Dour Candy and Elucid teamed up with A.M. Breakups to create the record For Madmen Only. Since they’ve teamed up, they have created not only this album, but their prequel mixtape Half Measures for a combined 33 tracks on both efforts in just over a month’s release time. And they never let up for a second. The songs on both albums are filled with pensive, well-developed, slightly misanthropic lyrics.
When comparing Half Measures to RACE MUSIC I have to be honest; I prefer the mixtape to the full album. My musical preference tends to lean toward mainstream, and gives more of that feeling, without straying from it’s underground roots. It still has the grimy feel of the New York underground rap, but their lyrical flow sounds a lot easier on the ears than RACE MUSIC. “Mozambique” featuring Faro Z and Curly Castro and “Bottle Service” match the new rock influence that Armand Hammer have been on during these two albums. But enough of the analysis of their previous album, we’re here to talk about their newest piece of work.
RACE MUSIC isn’t an album you can just listen to once. You have to pay extreme attention to each word to understand the arcane messages each rapper emits, and even then it’s still difficult to figure out what is going on. Thankfully, Backwoodz Studioz posted the album’s lyrics on their website. This wasn’t the proverbial waiving of the white flag in hopes to receive more listens if people can memorize the lyrics. It wasn’t even the admittance that the extensive lexicon was far too much for fans to fully comprehend. This was the strategic move of two poets to show listeners that while the oral delivery is extremely important, the written word equally serves purpose in the rap game. These guys aren’t about the flashy music videos and social media coverage (billy woods doesn’t even have a Twitter); RACE MUSIC is a lyrically poetic album that needs to be read just as much as it needs to be listened to. Armand Hammer’s official record starts off very grimy, but as the album progresses the songs transition from abstract pieces in which each artists extends their creative talents on to works that are easier on the ears and can easily become some of you favorite tracks of 2013.
It begins with an extremely disorganized, mechanical-sounding beat with overflowing lyrics. The first song, “Hatchet Job” epitomizes the album as a whole. It’s a hard listening track. It doesn’t flow like most songs do and that’s exactly what Armand Hammer was trying to accomplish. Even the title “Hatchet Job” was a carefully planned title, playing on the term “hack job”. They’re taking a stab at the other artists in the game that come and go and aren’t true lyricists like these two. Their flows are original, real, and are not sugarcoated on any level. It may just be the Aesop Rock-sounding flow, but I enjoy Elucid’s verses much more than billy wood’s. That’s not saying wood’s lyrics are subpar, because he was an almost perfect match for all the songs, such as his verse on “No Roses”, but the alternative rap beats match Elucid’s raps in a coexistence that really gives the album a dark feel. Artists have to compromise when contributing on collaborations. The prequel mixtape has instrumentals that seem to match billy’s lyrics, as well as his solo album, Dour Candy, but this album was Elucid’s for the taking.
This album is absolute fire. It’s tough to find a solid record that can deliver from top to bottom, especially with the same sound throughout, but these two pull it off. Let’s hope this is just the start of what could be and dynamic collaboration.
4.5 out of 5
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