Miami producer and rapper Spaceghostpurrp, ringleader and spokesman for the Raider Klan, sets the template for their shared aesthetic with his drowsy dreamscapes, gloopy bubbling synths and sludgy phat bass – a sound that often resembles Clams Casino with its lethargic tempo and Houston chopped ‘n’ screwed vibes, while also remaining tantalisingly obscured, even talismanic in its purpose-built mythology and references to ‘mysterious phonk’. It’s a heady brew that’s found an unexpectedly appropriate home on 4AD, with the forthcoming ‘Chronicles of Spaceghostpurrp’ to be the label’s first hip hop release in over 30 years of visionary weirdness. Spaceghost’s ‘Phuck Zimmerman’ mix, which we highlighted last month, was also a handy calling card for new voices like Ethelwulf, Key Nyata, Vince Staples, Denzel Curry and Amber London, three of whom feature below.
Keeping up with the flood of new tracks, video, mixtapes, tweets and occasional official releases from the America-wide crew-that-ain’t-a-crew that is RVIDXR KLVN (or Raider Klan, if your eyes haven’t yet acclimatised to their glyph-replacement alphabet) is an experience akin to baling out the Titanic with a styrofoam cup. Luckily for you, Dummy has combed the Klan’s ‘Fvckswag’ YouTube channel (600 uploads and counting) and related artist portals for the latest tracks worth noting from the scattered hip hop fraternity.
The insistent squeal of a photocopier provides the dread-filled backbone of ‘Bringing Tha Phonk’, apparently recorded from a machine he found lying around his mum’s house. A distinctly un-funky combination of creepy bell-like synths and background lady-squeals that could be attributed to either sex or violence, it’s also a rare occurrence of extreme dissonance in contemporary hip hop, and undoubtedly one of his most absorbing and hypnotic productions yet.
More gorgeously obscene G-funk retromania can be heard on ‘Low MF Key’, a Spaceghost production for Houston’s Amber London that blends her raw, upfront flow with a mid-90s vibe that she can’t possibly remember firsthand, having been born in 1994. Also check out ‘Ridin N Tha Back’, an Amber London track which serves as a mini who’s who of the Klan, with Spaceghost providing the beats and Ethelwulf and Denzel Curry providing bars.
After pricking ears with the retro G-funk of ‘Get Fucked Up 1994’, Seattle’s Key Nyata is representing America’s northwest with, erm, sizzurpy Houston vibes and a narcotically laidback. The screwy tempo of ‘All Black (Space Whip) is all over the rest of the new Phonkilation mixtape from the rapper, who, by the way, is only 16 years old.
Not the ninth century King of Wessex, the other Ethelwulf, who brings us a taste of exhumed Memphis hip hop on ‘The Wolfgang’s Rodolphe Mixtape’, the second half of which comes chopped and screwed for a slightly more contemporary listening experience. The spacious and rather elegant ‘Black Magic’ features Texan rapper Yung Raw, a collab which turns the tables on last year’s easy breezy ‘Snapback Love’, on which Raw and Wulf laid out a romantic situation familiar to every style-conscious young buck – loving your snapback more than your lady.
The track that’s earned the most hits on the Fvckswag channel of late is, of course, the new one from Harlem’s A$AP Rocky. ‘Goldie’ is a welcome change of pace from the overcooked largeness of the LiveLoveA$AP mixtape, even if it features drawling pitchshifted vocals and the usual references to a “mouth full of gold” and Rocky attracting women like a magnet. Producer Hit-Boy, the man behind Jay-Z and Kanye’s ‘Niggas in Paris’, seems to be at the peak of his powers here, giving Rocky an avenue out of his Houston worshipping into something that inverts the cloudiness of Clams Casino into something fresh and punchy, dark but danceable.