When it comes to hip-hop, we tend to focus on things that are a bit dirtier, a bit more abstract than your typical radio fodder. I guess we’re just cool and intelligent like that, which is why we chose to become writers instead of doing something boring like make money. Raider Klan, the Florida collective who gave birth to 2012’s other black-clad weirdo-rap phenomenon SpaceghostPurrp, are currently an extremely hot spot on our musical radar. Klan member Yung Simmie had already grabbed our attention with last year’s hard-hitting XXL Freshman Of 1993 , but it’s his latest mixtape Basement Musik that’s going to make him blow up. In the interest of quality music journalism editors Daniel Jones and Louise Brailey locked themselves in an empty (well, almost) room with their Macbooks open to TextEdit to record their impressions. This is what happened…
I’m Gone Intro
L: First up, the Chief Keef comparisons; Yung Simmie manages to strike this a very particular, Florida riff on drill music—the daft lyrics, dumb or non-existent wordplay. This track’s built upon the percussive skeleton of snare rolls which his own rat-a-tat flow augments. It’s a great opener, there’s no flesh, let alone flab.
D: I do love the military flow of it, and those lyrics are such a great introduction to the character: “See his brains on the wall when I make my call.” And you have to admit the lyrics are somewhat more cerebral (or at least more attention-grabbing) than Keef.
L: The huge cymbal crashes provide a little flourish. Yeah, the Chief Keef comparisons are tiresome but they’re there. Saying that, I liked Simmie’s freestyle over “3Hunna“.
9 to Ya Dome
D: Even if it’s fairly obvious, it’s hard to go wrong when your song is built on a Three 6 Mafia sample.
L: It’s pretty difficult to overstate how much early Three 6 Mafia impacts upon SpaceGhostPurrp and the extended Black Raider Klan family. Mysterious Phonk‘s cover even looked a little like the cover of Mystic Stylez.
D: This is something that really grabs me about Raider Klan stuff; it always feels like an updated version on the original Dirty South cassette culture. That grim’n’grimy sort of production value impacts the lyrics a lot more than something slick. At the same time, this one is very gauzy as well; almost like being smothered with cotton candy.
L: Undoubtedly. The tracts of stream of consciousness feel like weird id-like expulsions, but the the production often sounds corroded, worn, exterior. I get the casette culture point: they’ve internalized that decayed, fourth-generation wheeze.
D: Low and laid-back on lean. If I wouldn’t look ridiculous behind the wheel of a sick black Caddy, this is what I would bump while I drove it instead of my shrimpy sissy bike.
L: This is what I wanted the new A$AP Rocky to sound like but it really, really doesn’t. Sad, huh?
Still Smoking feat. Amber London
L: This is a bit more golden age NY, a bit more uplifting. I’m not sure I can get behind that. <shifts creepers awkwardly>
D: It’s got a bit of that late ’90s coming of age vibe to it, doesn’t it? It’s very symphonic.
L: Not down with the sample, it’s too much “filtered sunlight on high rise buildings”, not enough “gnawing claustrophobia”.
Need A Strippa
L: Oh God, this is too much.
D: I’m just imagining him performing to a crowd of dudes nodding with the same serious looks on their faces they wear when talking about splashing a fool’s brains on the wall. There’s something weirdly charming about that, he said whitefully.
L: I can see the slo-mo, purple-hued video now. I can’t decide if it’s disassociated and malignant or just really rather annoying. Ultimately they’re not mutually exclusive. Next.
Mask & A Glock
L: He signposts this as “Real Raider shit”, which feels a little superfluous seeing as they’re making creative use of Three 6 Mafia’s, um, “Mask & A Glock“. The stand out here is Amber London though, right?
D: Amber London owns this track. When does her mixtape drop?
Grinding All Day
L: One thing I really like about Yung Simmie and, of course, SpaceGhostPurrp is how they manage to dissolve their myriad influences into one another. You’d think their sound would end up sounding tangled and crowded with the trap music flourishes, the dank, drank wooziness, but it’s the negative space that resonates. Or rather allows for resonation.
D: The diversity of genres is also why their beats usually steal the show; you get these uninterrupted, cosmic drones lurking in the background of this creeping production, with the vocals treated the same as the instrumental.
BlVCK RAVEN PHONK
L: I love the quasi-mysticism that’s implicit within the Raider Klan—”Black Raven”? It borders on ridiculous but they’re so committed to it—and that’s before you get to the “hieroglyphs” A=V stuff. In terms of creating a coherent, striking aesthetic, only OFWGKTA do it better. I’m completely unsurprised by the news that their clothing line is expanding. Hold tight BRK beanies!
D: It’s kind of beautiful how Simmie evokes the gurning fever that comes with certain drugs without making the lyrics specifically about drugs. There’s also cars, and guns. And a nicely disorienting saxophone squawk punctuating it all.
D: As the title suggests, this one echoes the feeling of being a teen in your friend’s basement, listening to tunes and getting split on that green. It’s pillowy-soft, built on a skipping beat that lends an uncertain feel to the air even as you float on a cloud of kush. Simmie kills the flow almost playfully.
L: It sounds nostalgia-drunk. How old is Simmie again?
Vibe Session/Smoke and Think
L: I know this kind of ’90s revivalism is at the heart of the phonk concept, but am I the only one who finds it a little flat and lifeless when drained of its crouching menace?
D: I dunno, man. “Mommy’s skin feel velvet” kind of haunts me.
L: Rightly so, I guess.
Florida Nigga Mentality
D: Definitely the strongest track on the album. I love that Simmie didn’t throw in a lot of guest appearances from the more prolific SpaceGhostPurrp. When he shows up halfway through, it’s merciless.
L: The de-tuned chimes, the rimshots, the thudding, lumbering bass weight of it all. It’s considerably less nuanced than some of the material on this mixtape but it works precisely because of that. It’s hard.
D: The syrupy screwed changeup could have been a bit longer, though.
L: Yeah, but can’t they always? ~
Published January 22, 2013. Words by Daniel Jones & Louise Brailey.