What would Gravity’s Rainbow sound like as a rap album? Here is an album which, if we may, reminds the listener of their whispered allegiances to fundamental realities. The brushstrokes are delicate, stabbing, pointed. The overwhelming crescendo they whirl towards may be one of bitterness, and rightfully so. There is also lightness. A black man is giggling and pointing at you. It may have everything and nothing to do with rap and one’s place in it. Humiliation, no longer a threat—but a reality, has been exhausted. Perfect Hair is what remains.
The album vibrates, oscillating between journalistic extremes du jour, occupying a space few have let rap extend to. It is neither cheerful nor depressing, beyond those qualifiers. The rapper, having moved past the limited authority of rejection or ostracization, has arrived at a truth.
A Whole Sick Crew of characters weave their way across the shifting stage. Aesop Rock, Danny Brown, Open Mike Eagle and Pegasus Warning all spit directly earwards.
The listener has been trained. The listener has developed a palate for the baroque, the garish, the cruel and bloody. The listener has become accustomed to being guided not by ear but belly. Here is an album with the referential delicacy of a snowflake, and the nourishing qualities of that little drop of frozen water. It’s ending leaves the listener at a loss, stupefied by the risk taken. And at that moment of recognition, it seems to blink itself out of existence. The loss is yours.
And that loss is the motivating factor for what exists on this album beneath thick layers of discarded dreadlocks: a truth. That humiliating losses, communicated unflinchingly, lead one to an insatiable, bubbling hunger: to expand one’s space, to grow.
album art credit: John Lurie