GEN is the name of B L A C K I E's newest album, a disc which is by far one of the most artistically groundbreaking and emotionally raw releases to come from anyone in any art medium this year in Houston.
GEN doesn't prove that B L A C K I E is gifted; no, he did that a long time ago with hundreds of sweat-stained gigs across the globe. GEN proves that Michael LaCour is in this for life, not as a musician, but as a capital-A Artist.
You can see and read about the La Porte-bred Houston rapper in this week's Houston Press feature story by Shea Serrano. Serrano spent a few weeks with the artist, meeting his family, his newborn son, and taking in a few warehouse gigs.
GEN forgoes the walls of sound you know from B L A C K I E's last three EPs and 2008 debut LP Wilderness of North America for horns, keyboards, acoustic guitars, haunting, harried, and hellish choruses, that remind the listener more of blues than the damaged hip-hop that made him an underground institution.
Folk fed through his noise thresher comes out sounding like the Bad Brains on the other end. There was always the rumor of him picking up a guitar, and it sounds like it's happened.
He probably doesn't want to hear it, but there are pockets of hooks here too ("Home Town Blues") in these 12 tracks, bringing to mind hypnotic tribal chants. He mentions his father's death, being a new father himself, being a kid the Chemical City, and growing up in the shadows the plants in his backyard.
Lyrically he's at the top of game right now, reaching new levels of nude articulation that people his age will rarely ever open themselves up to.
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I've been a fan of the artist since I first saw him sometime in early 2008, maybe it was at The Mink, watching kids throw themselves at him, his sound system, and at each other. You never got a feeling that this person was in it for anyone else but himself, and that his own catharsis was something you could never understand, but somehow along the way he ended up helping exorcise each and everyone else's own demons. I have seen some kids walk out of B L A C K I E pits in tears, without any explanation.
Four or so cuts are dedicated to the loud and ruthless noise you know him best for, and these expanses act as prologues and codas to the madness in between. Calling them interludes wouldn't do them justice.