In writing about the Weeknd recently, I got all angsty about how he began his career as a mysterious artist, though he was clearly poised to blow up. While it’s true that good art will always prosper, properly marketed art will always prosper and then some. Some will argue otherwise, but the enigmatic nature surrounding Abel Tesfaye and his collaborators felt like a cheap mask ready to be shed when the money was right. That’s not a discredit to his talents, either; it’s merely a shot of vitriol for lousy marketing.
As such, you’d expect me to feel the same way about the air of mystery surrounding Captain Murphy, who has work with Flying Lotus, Azizi Gibson, Jeremiah Jae, and Earl Sweatshirt, among others. And when I spoke to FlyLo for Complex, he told me the following about this Murphy guy:
He’s a young dude from L.A. He’s really really shy. I met him through hanging out in the scene and shit. He’s a young dude not giving a fuck about being famous and shit. He didn’t even want to release the music he’d been passing to me and just did the shit for fun but I convinced the dude to start pushing himself and getting the music out.
Now, most heads think that FlyLo is in fact the voice behind the Captain, altering his voice like Madlib did with Quasimoto to create a villainous character removed from his own persona and career. Whether or not that’s the case basically means jack shit here. The same goes for that recent non-story about Irish rapper Rejjie Snow claiming he’s the Cap’n, which ended up being a dull joke/ploy for publicity.
What matters across Duality is what we’re hearing, and that is hedonistic, dark, and psychedelic hip-hop in its purest form. Not only that, but it’s all those things presented in perhaps the most innovative and intriguing package we’ve seen/heard in quite some time. For those unaware, it arrived first accompanied by a long-form music video depicting mostly cult-ish visuals along with tripped-out imagery and, at one point, old-school pornography.
To say the video complemented the music would be a massive understatement. Likewise, folks would be doing themselves a huge disservice by seeing all this as a mere publicity stunt by whoever is behind Murphy’s “mask.” Some have been quick to call him a MF DOOM rip-off, which is an incredibly simple way to discredit the work that went into Duality and its mystique.
But hey, if comparisons are your thing, you could liken this project to a twisted, fresh mix of everything evil DOOM’s done (namely Viktor Vaughn) and Odd Future’s more lucid moments. Then, toss in a dose of the L.A. beat scene’s sound, especially on the tracks produced by FlyLo and Teebs, and a pinch of bass music—you can thank TNGHT’s inclusion on here for that.
I know, that’s quite the mishmash of sounds, but it all flows together seamless across Duality, which, to me, is the most original release of the year. Is it perfect? Presentation-wise, very much so. But as a “hip-hop album,” no. The thing is, that’s not the point here. Whoever Captain Murphy is, he wanted to do something fucked up and blunted with his own style. Without question, he most certainly succeeded.