Music for 4/17/22!!!! Billy Woods

@@@ Billy Woods: Versailles (Backwoodz Studios, 2022) From this week’s Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums. Slotted as underground rap, I would dispute the word underground as the sounds here are very high end while the lyrics are much more noticeably about life and people than it is about smoking week and making big money, the common themes in mainstream rap. There’s a tenor sax that pops up for the vocal hook, wow this is unpredictable with a focus on creativity. Mr. Woods is headquartered in New York and I hear a little New York in the sounds, but not stereotypically. The MC in the second tune, No Hard Feelings, pushes the lyrics out like he’s working a heavy bag. Again an interesting use of horns in this track and the freshness is there for me. Oh my, the third track comes on and it sounds like a drumkit sound with some delay and a really nice hammered percussion part. Woods has a large contingent of guest rappers include ones I’ve heard such as Mike Ladd, Quell Chris, and EL-P. I’ve dug the first three tracks which is usually a clear sign that a year end list record has made its appearance. With some jazz feels and world music flashes as well as lyrical references I would hazard to say this is a meta record about black folks and their fate on this planet. The fourth track Sauvage comes with the guitar plink, a loping bassline, and what sounds like chains clanking or a simulacrum thereof. Regardless of what the point is here, the key is the power of creative arranging and strong rapping. If you’re a hip hop fan or a music fan check this out, this is high quality music for the masses.

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