Two albums to listen to: A couple of raw underground rap releases

Chris Duncan

Black Bastards – KMD

Before donning his famous mask and super-villain persona MF Doom, Daniel Dumile went by the name of Zev Love X. At first, rap was just a hobby for Dumile and his brother Dingilizwe, also known as DJ Subroc. But their group, KMD, quickly evolved into an up-and-coming trio after the release of the debut record Mr. Hood in 1991.

Determined to continue their success with a more complex and articulate effort, the brothers spent two years working on what would have been their sophomore release, Black Bastards. The album featured a candid discussion of race issues, but the 1994 release date was canceled. Supposedly, controversy surrounded the album’s cover, which featured a Sambo figure being lynched. The group never discussed a new cover, and with the tragic death of Dingilizwe in the same year, Daniel Dumile found solace in his darker thoughts and started rapping as MF Doom.

In 2001, KMD finally released Black Bastards in full capacity. The album’s sampling is often a shaky endeavor, but that doesn’t take away from Subroc’s hard-hitting beats. Combined with Doom’s poetic lyrics, Black Bastards is the perfect follow-up to KMD’s debut.

Tracks to listen to: “Sweet Premium Wine,” “Plumskinzz. (Loose Hoe, God & Cupid),” “Smokin’ That Shit”


Masters of the Universe – Binary Star


After meeting at Hiawatha Correctional Facility, rappers One Be Lo and Senim Silla ­— “all is mines” backward — found inspiration to form a duo. Their first release, Waterworld, brought an extensive tour, which would have likely visited more than one state if the pair hadn’t been on parole in Michigan.

They quickly decided Waterworld could be presented in a more intricate and complex fashion, leading to them remixing the album which they eventually called Masters of the Universe. Upon initial release, Masters of the Universe found praise as one of the best rap albums of the year. Unfortunately, this didn’t lead to the sales Binary Star was looking for, and after internal disputes, the duo promptly split up.

Masters of the Universe stands out with its ability to be clear and chaotic simultaneously. The album’s productiongenerally follows a path of confusion, using sound bites and samples from television shows as transitions. But One Be Lo’s rapping is precise and conscious of his influences, including his conversion to Islam. Masters of the Universe strings itself together to form a strong critique of modern rap.

Tracks to listen to: “Reality Check,” “Conquistadors,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Parts 1 & 2)”