Soliloquies of Chaos takes a look at some of my favorite verses and my reasons for loving them. Pretty simple Generally pretty simple, a little more thorough this time. Enjoy!
As the title suggests, “Aggressive Content” is a song preoccupied with confrontational imagery. While most Hip Hop artists who deal in concepts seem to do so only in passing (Prince Paul standing as the eternal exception, a true model for how to deliver music that is both conceptually intriguing and sonically pleasing), Nickelus commits himself fully to the title, never straying from the path of crafting the most aggressive vision possible. We’ll have a quick break for you to listen to the song, watch the video* and read the third verse. Then back to the lecture at hand.
Aggressive content, slither tongue scorpio sun scorching
The horseman, spittin out dastardly tales of torment
You think you hard but how bad are you
When skeleton bones reassemble right in front of you and come after you
Rich City wasteland, survival in the ruins
So we be gettin stoned like Bible executions
High, seein illusions, act stupid
I’ll be swingin the excalibur sword with the boulder still attached to it
Yeah, gargoyle in a joggin suit
Crouched in the parkin deck waitin beside your car for you
Horrible, to me everybody’s a lamb chop
The brown recluse spider lurkin in the sandbox
Watch your toes, watch your feet, and get your children
I crawl into your shoe waitin for your foot to slip in
Fatally bitten, soon as we make contact
Even the coptic love my aggressive content
Now, it is possible to see this verse as representative of traditional violent punchline rap, in the vein of a Big L or, more recently, indie rappers such as Apathy, Reef the Lost Cauze and any number of ancillary members of the Army of the Pharaohs. I see Nickelus creating something that bounces between Chino XL’s conceptual punchline raps and the electric psychosis of the Gravediggaz (a group that, not coincidentally, included Prince Paul). Though Chino and the Gravediggaz took vastly different approaches to attacking subject matter, each committed themselves fully to a concept when the time arose. Whether it’s Chino’s “Ghetto Vampire” or the entirety of 6 Feet Deep, the Gravediggaz debut LP, we can hear devotion to theme playing itself out in a fashion similar to that heard in “Aggressive Content.” Every line, every image comes back to the theme, hammering home the idea that this is indeed the most aggressive content you can get. From world shattering visions of Nickelus throwing “you so hard that land in Madagascar shatterin’ all of Africa” to the simpler image of Nick’s beat selection knocking your neck out of alignment to Nick’s proclamation that “this ain’t D.O.A., this is death of everything that ain’t my shit,” every bar houses a reminder that this is not a love song, a party song, or a trap song. This is pure, unadulterated aggressive content.
Technically speaking, Nickelus is a fine rapper, on par with or better than most. This focus on creating intricate imagery from line to line and working each rhyme into a larger overall theme separates him from the average rapper who seems to be getting shine these days. A lot of rap seems to be abstract shit talk, aimed at no one in particular, or drug talk mixed with shit talk. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these–Nickelus partakes in both. Plenty of rappers–Pill, Freddie Gibbs, Da Vinci–have recently breathed life into rote battle and trap rap with personality and craft. Still, it is refreshing to see a rapper place a strong concept at the pivot and spin a fully formed song around that singular idea. Nick gets extra credit for, essentially, making a high end battle song, turning the abstraction of other rappers boasts into a larger than life encapsulation of violence and victory, a song so wedded to brutality that it might come off as parody in the hands of a less capable rapper.**
The ultimate example, in my mind, of this full deliverance on a conceptual song has already been chronicled in Soliloquies of Chaos: “Stray Bullet” by Organized Konfusion. It is an uncommon, striking combination of concentrated imagery, vivid storytelling, and extraordinary rap technique.
*I’ve featured the video for “Aggressive Content” on here before, but I’m throwing it in this post to show how the lyrics are mirrored quite literally in the accompanying visuals.
**Here we find one of the reasons people often can’t take horrorcore seriously: it’s a genre so absurd that many of its songs seem to be at times some sort of spoof. This aura of ridiculousness is one of the many reasons so few people take the Insane Clown Posse seriously. I’m not saying you should take them seriously, you most certainly shouldn’t.