Possibly ironically, my rap consumption took a downward turn when I moved to Texas, mainly due to change of circumstances and because I go through phases in my listening habits - although I don't mean that I stopped listening to rap, just that my focus changed. More recently, I've been listening to more and more rap once again, and have thus become aware of being a fifty plus white dude with no fucking clue as to what be going on in the world of rappers' music. I was fairly well clued up from 1995 to the point at which I chucked in my job in 2009. I bought XXL, The Source, and Hip-Hop Connection on a regular basis. I'd read them in the caff after work and hunt down anything I liked the sound of. However, like I said, my circumstances have changed, and although I have an internet, I haven't got the first clue as to where to start looking because whenever I do start looking, I only seem to find shite.
I recently picked up a copy of XXL at WalMart - seeing as they're somehow still printing the thing - but I don't recognise any of the names, and albums don't seem to exist these days because it's all about blogs and SoundCloud, and so much time has now passed that even Lil' Wayne is considered old school; and it's all trap music made by twelve-year olds with facial tattoos and names formed from a keyboard smash; and there's this dude called Tekashi 6ix9ine with rainbow teeth - because somehow the fucking tatts just weren't enough - who recently made the news when he spunked away ninety-five-thousand dollars on a My Little Pony chain.
You see, as a fully grown man, I have trouble getting my head around any of this. I know that the good stuff must be out there, but I'm fucked if I can find it; and I know the good stuff must be out there, because it can't be just Viper…
Kill Urself My Man is, according to the internet, a mix of tracks mostly taken from another of the guy's many albums. I bought it mainly out of curiosity, and to see whether You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack had been some once in a career flash of brilliance. I also bought it because I appreciated the title for more or less the same reasons as this YouTube commentator:
I like how the song tells you to kill urself but also is very uplifting and personal in calling you my man. Viper is a genius.
As I may have mentioned, Viper churns them out more or less single-handedly - 347 albums issued as downloads in just 2014, apparently - so as you might expect, his quality control isn't always what it could be. With this one we get titles which don't bear any obvious relation to the tracks, Shot Once and Wit U 4 Tha Longhaul seem to be the same mix of the same song, and the rest suffer from digital glitches, pauses and false starts; but the good news is that none of that matters because it's a great album, and every bit as great as Cowards.
Kill Urself has a much stronger R&B vibe than the first one I listened to, and the production is better with at least half of the tracks sounding as though they maybe could have turned up on a nineties No Limit release. Given the stripped down bass rumble which I've come to think of as the Viper sound, I'm tempted to wonder whether he might not have borrowed a couple of the instrumentals used here, being as this album sounds almost expensive in places; but on the other hand, I don't really care that much. The results speak for themselves.
Once again we have a mellow atmosphere and the usual bragging contrasted with the occasional threat, and all drenched in a codeine haze. There's also a surprisingly high quota of autotune, and autotune which actually works and sounds good - which makes for a nice change; and there's the revelation that Viper seems to have a pretty decent singing voice in addition to everything else, given that I suspect there's only so much you can do with autotune. As with Cowards, this music is weird and kind of trippy, but it has a good feeling to it and really gets its hooks into you in a way that not many other things do at the moment. So much for all that condescending bullshit about outsider art, Viper is the real thing, but we've been palmed off with fucking ringtone music for so long that we don't even recognise it when we hear it.