ALBUM REVIEW: BDSM'S BLACK MASS

By JD DiGiovanni

February 15, 2013

I’d rap about my issues, but my issues are so plain

all I want is a fucking tragedy, slap me in the brain

but for now I’ll just whine about dealing with cum-stains

Those are lines from 'Forever Heavy', a track on The Orient’s second album, Internment.  The group consists of beat-maker Weird Dane and emcee Jap. The rapper brashly and constantly notes his ethnicity, bringing it up in most songs. Those lines are a good sample of Jap’s lyrics. There’s lots of shit talking, lots of gross shit, and all of it’s done pretty well.  However, the boisterous misanthropy that defines the album leaves something to be desired. 

At points, Internment feels like it’s a young album. While Jap meanders about his twisted sexual escapades, he sometimes trips over his own complicated, tongue-twisting lines. Meanwhile, Weird Dane lays down beats that sometimes just don’t fit. That being said, the album definitely holds promise for both; in particular, the emcee regularly delivers complicated, vivid verses. His lyrics are laced with an earnestness you often don’t find in rap, even as the genre continues to evolve and redefine itself. 

When I heard that Jap was teaming up with Lucas Kendall’s BDSM project, I got excited.  Kendall put out Chain Hung last summer, one of the best projects ever released by Dark World, the Pioneer Valley music collective that consists largely of kids that are too young to drink.

The album was dark, aggressive, and sounds like something that a hearse would blast en route to a cemetery at 3 in the morning.  He took a southern lean-inspired sound and paired it with an aesthetic similar to his punk group, Whirl.  What, I wondered, would such a versatile rapper sound like riding beats bound to be as creative as they are menacing?  Pretty fucking awesome.

Jap and BDSM pulled together some amazing features on Black Mass.  Most notably, Dopehead from The Bruiser Brigade, and Lil Snupe from Maybach Music Group.  Despite being the biggest names on the album, they don’t overshadow the rest of the group.  Young Vocals’ crooning on ‘Merciless’ is absolutely gorgeous, while Gods Wisdom and Kinky Lodin are hilarious in their nonchalance on ‘Spirit Hood’ and ‘Never Heard.’  And those are just the ones I mentioned.

Jap and Kendall

Moving deeper than just the names on the track listing, the first thing that struck me was the ferocity with which Jap jumps into the album on ‘Drugs Turn My Life.’  He sounds more combative then ever, firing shots at UMass students, J. Cole, and Kanye West like he’s earned it; and by the end of the album he’s convinced you that he has.

Since Internment dropped, Jap has honed his flow so well that he can turn it completely on its ear, and then back again in the same song – making it all sound easy.  He’s departed from the oppressively self-critical and referential rhymes of a year ago that brought to mind the image of a teen browsing his own Facebook page, now crafting confident and extroverted rhymes.  No matter what BDSM throws at him, he rides it like he was born with it looping in his head.  Even on the noisy and cluttered track ‘Eyes Closed,’ he rhymes like he’s at home.

These are some of the best Kendall’s ever produced.  They are less the goth-sipping-on-lean and more catchy, melodic, and clean.  BDSM draws from a wide pallet, sampling everything from harps to The Simpsons’ theme song.  He has proved that not only can he produce interesting, experimental stuff, but that he can also turn out songs like ‘Bad Boys Club,’ one of the best tracks on the album. These are songs that feel fit for the radio – the kind that stick with you for a week afterwards. 

If this album means anything, it’s that the Pioneer Valley is home to some of the most creative and daring artists in rap today.  Not only are they making great music, they’re grabbing the attention of notable rappers as far away as Detroit.

At this point, it's only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up. Jap isn’t lying when he raps in the hook on ‘Never Heard/Kinky Lodin’ interlude: “Never heard a motherfucker spit like this before.”