PSYPIRITUAL Wants To "Time Your Drugs"
Updated: Nov 30, 2018
By Sean Lee
Experimental hip hop often falls prey to the self-indulgent use of obscure samples, but Tucson based rapper PSYPIRITUAL swerves this lane by testing the waters of vocal delivery rather than production itself.
His debut album, Time Your Drugs does not shy away from the superficial levels of psychedelia – combining drug induced lyricism with sludgy production a la 2014 Travis Scott. However, PSYPIRITUAL differs from Scott in his delivery, choosing to engage more so in the niche areas of the surreal than it’s more typical tropes.
Album opener, the two part “Bienvenidos // Turquoise Hill” begins with a new age invocation of Revelations 2:28: “My earthly experiences serve as a process of destruction of my limiting mortal delusions.” Much like this opening juxtaposition of seemingly opposing dualities, fundamental Christianity and the mantra of 1980’s new age, the two parts of this opening track are jarring in their symbioses. As the esoteric recording plays, a creeping organ gradually transitions into viscous production as the rapper breaks the meditation with a harsh vocal delivery that sharply contrasts the tracks beginning.
“Ate too much food then take a shit now I’m nauseous/ watch Bloods and Crips shake hands and stay cautious” slurs the rapper again presenting seemingly unrelated imagery combined only through consistent flow. It may be easy to compare this opening track to MF Doom with its odd sample choice and testy lyricism, however the Arizonian rapper is more in line with Captain Murphy simply due to his choice of delivery – testing the very boundaries of rhyming by slurring words similar to Flying Lotus’ alter ego.
While there are definitely moments of more “traditional” rap delivery particularly in songs “Shrooman Show” and “Time Your Love,” PSYPIRITUAL still manages to consistently experiment with hip-hop’s rigid form. Originality comes without the cost of overexertion on Time Your Drugs. PSYPIRITUAL smoothly veers between heavily filtered vocals on “Voy a Dejar,” screamed raps on “Kill Your TV,” and screwed hooks on “Dream Domestication.”
While other rappers in the genre often sacrifice lyrics for experimentation (A$AP Rocky’s Testing and Death Grip’s Exmilitary come to mind), PSYPIRITUAL isn’t victim to this problem. Bars like “A basehead hugged my wall talking bout he needed water/ did a bid for ten years now he’s on the street with his daughter” on “Zig Zag Park” or “Aren’t you glad I’m still here/ I want your scalp to start peeling it/ drugs kick in as soon as soon as I’m asked if I’m feelin’ it/ cups full of beans don’t be the guy to be spillin’ it/ I’m covered in blood and intestines can’t you tell that I’m killin’ it?” on “Walkin’ Thru Walls” reveals a project that is more than just merely superficially trippy. Combining intricate rhymes with experimental production, Time Your Drugs is reminiscent of the albums Black Up by hip-hop duo Shabazz or The Cold Vein by Cannibal Ox.
Perhaps the one downside of this project is the lack of a standout hit that might push the album into a larger spotlight. Potential breakout songs like “Why You so Sweet” or “Soular Culture” are hidden between songs with intense musical explorations. But within the ethos of experimental hip hop, perhaps seeking a hit is beyond the point.
Time Your Drugs is ego death without loss of sight and a full immersion into drugged out trip-hop rather than the microdose present in most of mainstream today.
This piece is by Sean Lee. Follow him on Twitter @Sean_Lee.