When music historians look back on the hip-hop landscape of the last few years, one thing they’ll note is the resurgence of the crew formation.
Granted, the Internet’s new favorite sons OFWGKTA have already had a transformative effect on that perception. But the last two years have seen a gradual reemergence of the taxonomy that undergirded rap’s roots. From recent XXL cover boys Shady Records (now with 25% more battle rap) and L.A.’s own Black Hippy, groups of solo artists are commonly banding together to stand out in a diffuse environment.
Of course, throughout the last decade, crews from G-Unit to Dipset, Young Money and Brick Squad, have continued to fortify ideas about strength in numbers. But recently, it seems like a response to rap world over-saturation.
Graduates of Project Blowed, Hellfyre Club are the latest to rise through the crowded scene. Composed of artists signed to Nocando’s Alpha Pup-distributed imprint, rappers Open Mike Eagle, Intuition, Kail, Verbs and Sahtyre, and producers E Super, are Low End Theory staples and just the sort of MCs you’d expect the scene to breed: open-minded, ideology-averse, and with a wry sense of humor.
The first in a planned-quarterly series of free mixtapes, the DJ Nobody-mixed “Prometheus” offers each rapper a few minutes to shine, with E Super providing rangy science-fiction funk to provide a break from the clever verbiage. Rhyming over beats appropriated from fellow Low Enders Baths, Mono/Polo, Flying Lotus and Ed Banger-affiliate Mr. Oizo, they do an admirable job of extending the Blowed aesthetic–finding a happy middle ground between street and scholastic, political and profane.
For those who once loved subterranean rap but got off the wagon when it veered toward sophists and the sanctimonious, this is for you. Welcome to Hellfyre.
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