If you're just joining those of us in Houston who have been following B L A C K I E (All Caps With Spaces) since the beginning, let us catch you up. After starting off with several hardcore noise-rap records, he diverged into totally disparate genres, mixing his screams over acoustic, jazz, and experimental soundscapes on records like GEN, Fuck the False and last year's Imagine Yourself in a Free and Natural World.
With his latest release, B L A C K I E has finally returned from the wilderness to his original style of rapping. His vocals are still strained and yelled, but he's also spitting flows again over classic hip-hop beats. Despite how inspiring his amazing experimental works were, this is a welcome return to classic form.
The return to more traditional hip-hop is a result of his collaboration with some friends from high school, known as Black Blades. The group formed all the way back in 2004, long before B L A C K I E was a well-regarded artist in Houston. Back then, he was just a kid, playing around with beats with his friends.
Stony Hawk and SVNS are the other two members of Black Blades that appear on the new self-titled single release. Stony Hawk and B L A C K I E go in on “Game of Life (SAMURAI)” for the A-side, while the B-side features SVNS joining B L A C K I E on “Show Me Your Texture.” The description for the release alludes to more members of the crew that do not appear on this release, but will hopefully make their presence known in the future.
Both songs feature dark, ambient beats that sound culled from the depths of a fascination with 808s and synths. They sound chilled-out, but with an icy texture that feels like driving through a winter storm at night. There's always been something vaguely creepy about B L A C K I E's sound, something uncomfortably dark yet so enticing, and “Game of Life (SAMURAI)” and “Show Me Your Texture” are no different.
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The release is labeled Black Blades Vol. 1, so hopefully that means we're in for more of them soon. While B L A C K I E's many detours in the past few years have been artistic masterpieces, this return to basics is a satisfyingly stripped-down look at the artist without pretension. It also brings to light the skills of both Stony Hawk and SVNS, who more than match their compatriot in technique and flow.
Both songs are available for purchase on the Araçá Recs Bandcamp page now, either as a pay-what-you-want digital download or $7 limited edition 7-inch vinyl record. Meanwhile, B L A C K I E's own tour gets started tonight at Fitzgerald's, featuring special guests Abdu Ali, Kilbourne, Biz Vicious and First Ward Sound.
Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8 for 21 and up; $12 for minors.