Beans - Wolves of the World - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Beans - Wolves of the World

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-31

Beans has been busy. After a five-year hiatus, the White Plains MC has simultaneously dropped three full length LP’s and a novel. The first release of the musical batch, Wolves of the World, is a collaboration with Canadian producer Toboggan. As a founding member of Anti-Pop Consortium, Beans has been responsible for some of the most cutting edge hip-hop records of the last 20 years. Wolves of the World not only continues that innovative musical trend but uncovers a new layer to Beans’ MC persona – that of a man now forced to contend with his legacy, his impact on hip-hop and what comes next. Through it all Beans has Toboggan at his back offering-up some of the most interesting, futuristic beats and soundscapes listeners are likely to hear this year.

Wolves of the World opens with a state of the union address: “The Echo of Events Unknown And It Held Meaning”. The track begins with Beans recounting his days hustling as a young MC rapping in The City. Memories of long train rides back to White Plains in the wee hours of the morning still linger. Though his flow is nothing like Nas’, Beans’ historical rap immediately recalls the Queensbridge MC’s “2nd Childhood” and “Last Real Nigga Alive” in the warts-and-all way it recounts its author’s humble beginnings. In an endless stream of rhymes, Beans laments the way Anti-Pop was ostracized by hip hop radio icons Stretch & Bobbito and ignored by indie hip hop label Rawkus. He flows about his job working retail and fellow Anti-Popper High Priest’s stint at Kinkos. Beans recalls seeing Biggie and Tupac sharing a stage – an experience shoring-up his bona fides as a Public Enemy-raised “Golden era/ 80s baby…/ here to stay…/ ain’t for play.” The story pours-out over a clattering beat consisting mostly of discordant cymbals sounding more like they’re being dropped, en masse, than being played. The whole affair is edgy, over-stimulated and genuinely unique and amounts to a truly great opener.

Subsequent standouts on Wolves of the World include “Diamond Wizard” featuring Beans, rapping his ass off, over a massive electro beat that comes across as a 2017 update on Run DMC’s “It’s Like That”. A rather shocking track, “She Walked Towards The White Like Movie star Teeth” recounts the kidnapping, rape and torture of a young woman in which Beans rhymes from the perspective of the victim. “I Don't Know Magic Tricks to Get Your Attention So All I Can Do Is Be Sincere” has Beans nearly tripping over his own rhymes to woo a love interest with his flow and the result is a spectacular. “New Brain Death Blast” boasts a double-dutch beat over which Beans drops rhymes referencing Game of Thrones, Star Trek and “retarded seals”.

Toboggan’s work on Wolves of the World is nearly flawless. His layered beats, the brief-but-unrecognizable samples he deploys, and the overwhelming fields of sonic noise he creates are all stunning and original. If there is an apt descriptor for his sound, it would be that Toboggan sounds like “the future”. As intangible and reductive as that compliment may be, that thought recurred over and over while listening to Wolves of the World… Toboggan sounds like the future and the future sounds indescribably cool.

The only unfortunate element of Wolves of the World relates the album’s mix. In a tragically egalitarian move, Wolves of the World always seems to afford Beans and Toboggan equal sonic space, on every track, and all too often the MC’s on-point rhymes get lost in the fray. With lyrics and music this good, both artists deserve to be celebrated instead of trampling one another. Wolves of the World would also have benefited from some pruning. The album’s closer “There's Nothing I Want More Than to Walk Towards The Sweet Release Of Death With You”, much like it’s title, is a rambling unlistenable mess that ticks-on for nearly five minutes. “Existence Becomes One More Day” would be equally monotonous if not for its bass-heavy beat. Those complaints aside, Beans and Toboggan have created one of the year’s most interesting and unique hip hop records. Don’t sleep on Wolves of the World just because Beans decided 2017 was going to be his most prolific year.

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