The Life & Death of Scenery - by L'Orange & Mr. Lif

George Orwell once prophesized, “if you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.” The latest EP from L’Orange & Mr. Lif, The Life and Death of Scenery, conceives a chimerical “lighthearted dystopia” just far enough from modernity to breathe easily, but close enough to make you consider relocating to that cave in the forest. In this collaboration with the eccentric North Carolina producer, L’Orange, Lif imagines an adjacent future called the “last society,” where culture has been obliterated and physical survival has taken precedence over art.

Released through a partnership between Adult Swim and Mello Music Group, the duo’s latest opus opens with one of four addresses from “The Narrator” (played by The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac). These Big Brother missives capture a world where the, “books are all burned, the vinyl has been melted, and the remaining art catapulted over the city walls.” The mere act of whistling is cause for the guillotine. It’s the rap analogue to Fahrenheit 451, 1984, or a Brave New World, where the Soma is uncomfortably soothing and the sunshine eerily abundant.

The former Def Jux legend inhabits on the role of The Scribe, frantically showing the post-apocalyptic survivors the power of what's been lost. It attacks those who value disposable art over the timeless; it articulates the necessity of preserving culture; it lampoons the absurdity of attempting to destroy one of the most immutable qualities in mankind.

In L’Orange’s words, the collaboration is “a negotiation of influences without compromise.” You can hear the producer’s trademark alchemy of classic boom-rap with glitchy fuzz, a compressed whimsy that slaps against somber scythe-like piano lines, ominous spaghetti western licks, and celestial saxophone licks.

Lif spits staccato bars in double-time, adeptly slicing through the beats like banned books to a shredder. He’s joined on “Antique Gold” by the 19-year old monotone samurai, Chester Watson. Gonjasufi’s banshee yelp makes “Strange Technology” even more resonant. Insight bombards on “Five Lies About the World Outside.” The legendary turntablist Q-Bert contributes cuts on “The Scribe.” While Akrobatik, Lif’s longtime partner in The Perceptionists, pops up twice to exhibit their almost telepathic tag-team chemistry.

The rapping is virtuosic. The production is sumptuous and scene setting. But what sticks is those cumulative effects: the fantastic imagination of this foreign but familiar world, the importance of illuminations in a world that values cold logic, the sly humor of winking oracles, and inexorable fear that this could be a reality—should we continue down our current path.

 

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Gensu Dean & Wise Intelligent

Wise Intelligent is one of the original founders of Conscious Hiphop, on the mantle alongside of Public Enemy, Mos Def & Lauryn Hill. As a founding member of the classic group Poor Righteous Teachers, he landed a gold album with his debut and ended up selling 2 million plus records between 1989-1996. Add to that being named Top 50 most-slept on emcees of all-time by Complex magazine, a Top 100 Albums of All-Time placement by The Source, and a #5 most-underrated emcee award from About.com and you have the understanding of where many of today’s emcees styles come from. But more importantly were the terms upon which Wise Intelligent laid his foundation: Principle above profit, community over self. Wise Intelligent is one of the premiere voices for Black consciousness in music today.

Enter Gensu Dean. Currently based in Austin, Texas, the analog producer has laid rock solid sonic foundations for everyone from Grammy award winner and friend David Banner to Cali-agent Planet Asia. Add a host of Hiphop who’s whos like Large Professor, CL Smooth, Ol Dirty Bastard, Roc Marciano, Denmark Vessey, Homeboy Sandman, Diamond D, and to Shady Records signee Conway The Machine into Dean’s production credits and you’ll start to get the picture. His sound is analog, ranging from MPC3000 to SP1200. Gensu is a one of a kind, back to basics, head nodding, beat making, smash mouth producer with as many chambers as Khufu at Cheops.

Now the two legends have teamed up in Atlanta to record a new album together over the past 6 months. From there Gensu brought the record home to Austin for some preliminary mixing, then flew out to the equally legendary DITC Studios in the Bronx to mix the record with Parks. After a quick flight back to Texas and sessions with Jimi Bowman at Klearlight studios in Dallas, the masters were complete and a new project ready for the masses: “Game of Death.”

Rooted in Universal Science, the album takes dead aim at mediocre, dumbed down, manufactured rap while treating Music as the weapon it is. This is cultural warfare bridging the gap from Roxanne & Biz Markie to Jay Electronica & Erykah Badu. Bending time & space, Gensu & Wise take listeners through history with amazingly wide-eyed clarity. With statements as straight-forward as “Your shit aint Hiphop if it’s corporate” there is no missing the message of self-determination. This is the type of liberation that starts with your mind and is more about what you shed than what you add on. Somebody say Amen.
credits
releases June 2, 2017

Produced by Gensu Dean
Vocals by Wise Intelligent

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Modern Language, "Madlab" f. Illogic

California emcee Lucid Optics and UK producer Museum are Modern Language, presenting "Madlab", their new single from An Offer You Can Totally Refuse, their forthcoming album out now. "Madlab" features a guest appearance from Ohio emcee Illogic, who with Lucid Optics forms the duo Lucid Logic. Lucid and Museum first met when they performed on the same bill at a show in San Francisco, and have been collaborating digitally ever since, releasing the OK Txt Me EP in 2015. Lucid Optics is part of the Iscape collective, and has performed alongside Blueprint, Louis Logic and Milo. "Museum doesn't know it, but this beat was the greatest twentieth birthday present I could've asked for," says Lucid. "I was in a lot of turmoil in that period and still getting used to all the chaos around me. The main theme is realizing the power and potential human beings have while being surrounded by people who don't. I also met one of my favorite artists while we were working on this project and we became friends after playing a show at the Honey Hive in San Francisco. I think my verse leaves room and unanswered questions, which isn't always a bad thing, but Illogic really ties it together with that sort of spoken word piece. I'm super grateful to be working on more music with both of these dudes."

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