humanBIEN - Warm Wind In Winter

Maybe it's just that I've been watching the first season of the original Star Trek series, but humanBIEN has me in my speculative fiction feels, like what if all the pandemic emotions in the world were so real they came together and birthed a whole other world complete with its own continents, oceans and ecologies. Warm Wind In Winter could've come from that place, its title talking about a fleeting but welcome reprieve from a season there, or just maybe feeling out of the ordinary. Regardless, humanBIEN's art is extraordinarily emotive and creative, such that no one should be surprised to learn he not only raps, sings, produces and mixes his projects, but also draws incredibly detailed and imaginative illustrations like the one featured here (see more on his IG), and such that I cannot recommend this album highly enough for anyone who fancies themselves someone who really cares about that kind of stuff.

Akari - edits vol. 1

One of the best parts of hearing a new Akari project is that going into it you don't know for sure if it's going to make you want to dance, bob your head or meditate, but you can bet it's liable to provoke all three of those responses and then some. His latest, edits vol. 1 showcases the producer's ever-honing mastery of the art of the remix. Akari describes the project as "a collection of edits, blends, and remixes" that "draws from the sounds of house, jungle, uk garage, juke and more." It succeeds in rendering all those nouns meaningless, all their sounds a soup. Stream it below along with a bonus "danse practice" cut pulled from Akari's Soundcloud, and do what it makes you want to do. 


BP & Bunchy Cartier - Amity Villains

On March 12, 2021, Ronald DeFeo Jr. died at the Albany Medical Center. An inmate at Sullivan Correctional Facility, DeFeo had been serving 25-to-life for six counts of second-degree-murder. According to the court, on November 13, 1974, at the age of 23, DeFeo shot and killed his mother, father and four siblings. The night of the murders, Ronald Jr. walked into Henry's Bar (later Cloud Nine, now Parisi's Pizza & Pasta) on Merrick Road and said "You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!" The next day, Ronald Jr. confessed to the crime. A heroin and LSD user, he pled insanity at trial. The court found him guilty in November 1975 and sentenced him in December. 

That same month, George and Kathleen Lutz purchased and moved into the house where the DeFeo family had lived at 112 Ocean Avenue. They moved out 28 months later, claiming they'd been terrorized by ghosts. This served as the basis for the Amityville Horror books and films, which made the village known across the country. Referencing its infamy as well as worsening living conditions there during the 1980s, some local residents started calling Amityville Horror City, which led to the rise of the Hip-Hop collective of the same name.

Though not part of that collective, Amity Villains BP and Bunchy Cartier likely came up hearing and experiencing many of the same stories; some true, some embellished, some complete fabrications, all equally capable of inspiring more stories. At one point, DeFeo Jr. blamed the killings on his great uncle, a Genovese family capo. The Amityville Horror books and films repeatedly allege the DeFeo home sat atop the site of a former resting place for insane or dying Shinnecock Indians. Neither of these claims is factual, but both are rooted in facts and fears. Many Long Islanders have a great-uncle with ties to organized crime. All Long Islanders live on lands once tended by Native Americans. Our imaginations fill in the rest. In many ways, Amityville is like any other Long Island suburb. Homes there cost about a minimum of $500,000. The informal economy thrives there. Ghosts lurk between those sentences like chambers of commerce between village halls.  

Amity Villains sounds like those phantoms, their half-told ghost stories the very essence of suburban myth: business and government. 


Darc Mind - Darc Mind Wuz Here

Drafting questions for my bucket-list interview with Darc Mind MC Kevroc and producer X-Ray Da Mindbenda, I briefly considered then quickly dismissed the idea of asking when their next project was coming. After all, 13 years separated the duo's 2nd and 3rd albums. So, you can imagine my surprise when, after I asked at the end of the interview if there was anything else they wanted to talk about, X-Ray volunteered that they had another project, an EP called Darc Mind Wuz Here, nearly completed. 

The coda on a brilliant if abbreviated body of work spanning multiple decades, Darc Mind Wuz Here landed at the top of 2022 true to its name; the writing on a crumbling wall, its section still standing strong even if destined for the rubble pile. Kevroc has one of the most marketable voices in the history of Hip-Hop; that it's never been "successfully" sold as such by the music industry is as much a testament to the genius of his lyrics as a casualty of '90s label politics. Simply put, he's not writing for the masses but for himself and those he might inspire. In liner notes and interviews, he cites as his major influences local MCs who never put out records and whose names virtually nobody else would be able to recognize today except maybe for their former neighbors and collaborators. Widespread recognition is not, has never been the point. 

Darc Mind's catalog is essential rap music, an ever-evolving oral tradition. Thus, even the bitter-sweet finality of this exclamatory installment comes with an unambiguous belly laugh. Its final song-proper is unironically titled "Now That I've Arrived." Its last track, "Phantom of the MLK Center," is not so much a rap song as a spoken-word lamentation, a love-hate letter from artist to art. Even after the tag fades from the broken bricks, after the last rhyme is done and the last boom bapped, this never ends. Its very existence is one of continuous advancement. That's what manifested it. That's what it manifests.

Whether or not there's a document to show for it, Darc Mind Wuz Here. "Cats who lived there will know what I'm talking about."