“We Get What We Deserve”: Guerrilla Ghost’s Heavy Electronic Hip-Hop (Album Stream)
Contributing for Invisible Oranges over the past two months, I’ve gotten the impression that the focus here is more on heavy, emotive music in general than it is on the metal genre in particular. I took note especially of the recent Favorite Heavy Albums of 2020 So Far roundup which included picks from Chong Wizard and Moodie Black. It then wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that certain segments of the Invisible Oranges audience could be low-key hip-hop fiends as well -- a specific kind of hip-hop that we’re looking for, a sub-style that recreates or matches the same grit of the metal.
Over the past decade, there’s been a steady increase in hip-hop that embraces metal, industrial, and/or hardcore punk influences. This crossover has worked wonders broadening our understanding of what each of these genres has the capacity to be, as well as bridging the gaps between their various audiences.
Though not necessarily as abrasive as some of their contemporaries within this arena, Milwaukee’s Guerrilla Ghost are certainly descendants of this new pattern in their own right. A potent duo of rapper Bad Graphics Ghost and producer Tron Jovi, the project garnered a fair amount of attention in 2018 with the deliciously composed Perpetually Sad Motion Machine debut. Now, in 2020, it’s time to capitalize on that success with their latest release We Get What We Deserve, out Friday and streaming early in full below.
And capitalize Guerrilla Ghost certainly do. We Get What We Deserve elevates all of the aspects that made the project's debut so good. The phenomenally constructed production from Tron Jovi is now more alluring, continuing to take a clear influence from industrial music and EDM while also becoming significantly more expansive in its diversity. The majority the album's songs rely on synth-heavy, electronic touches, but ones that still carry underlying senses of momentum and rhythm indicative of mre metallic influences.
On the lyrical, rapping side of things, Bad Graphics Ghost is once again all over the place with his delivery, belting out and addressing a wide range of sounds and topics that make We Get What We Deserve pleasantly enjoyable from several different angles. It’s always been my opinion that hip-hop lyricism is best when rappers use the medium to both address important social and personal issues while also taking time to crank out fun bangers more grounded in braggadocio and simply celebrating the usual extravagances associated with the genre. In this regard, Bad Graphics Ghost pushes Guerrilla Ghost to the threshold of excellence with their sophomore full length: the fact that he can transition from talking about the pains of relationships and giving an ode to slain unarmed black men on “Another Sad Love Song” and “In Memory Of” to screaming at the top of his lungs on “Wesley Snipes In Jungle Fever” says volumes.
Bad Graphics Ghost covers bases not merely with what subjects he addresses with his lyrics, but also with the exact ways in which he offers up his vocals. Most of the time he’s just rapping, but true to the metal and perhaps also screamo influences within Guerrilla Ghost, he occasionally crescendos into shrieks and screams. These transitions can be a bit abrupt, and at times serve to somewhat rattle the listener out of a more mellow, hypnotizing atmosphere, but they still serve as a strong reminder that the hip-hop of Guerrilla Ghost does not solely look toward hip hop itself for inspiration.
With dangerously hot beats from Tron Jovi that go right at stimulating the central nervous system, as well as witty, diverse lyrical/vocal delivery from Bad Graphics Ghost, the duo have easily gone from “good” to “great” on with their second studio effort. Although still not attracting nearly as much attention as some of the other more entrenched artists in the industrial hip-hop hemisphere, Guerrilla Ghost are nonetheless carving out a damn fine name for themselves, and strongly hinting that, with time, they may very well become their own giants of the style.
-- Sahar Alzilu
We Get What We Deserve releases this Friday, July 31st, 2020 via Triple Eye Industries.
From the band:
As we started to produce demo beats for the new record, I decided to incorporate guitars again, but this time sampled, chopped and abstracted and treated a little more drony. We also took cues from the past few years gigging and incorporated some live-looping techniques we'd apply to drums and vocals during shows and started using that as part of our production process. I'm a big fan of reggae, dub and dancehall -- a lot of the way I mix our live shows is owed to dub... this record even has some dub siren. I've been a huge fan of Kool Keith since discovering his early solo albums and just kept following his career since. He's a true original. We opened for Keith in 2018 at a now infamous Milwaukee show at a tiny bar venue. The cops shut him down three songs into his set. His crowd was one of the most receptive crowds we've played to. As we started planning this record, I reached out to Keith to see if he'd be interested in doing a feature. He responded quickly and expressed interest, so I told him I'd reach back out when it was time. Once the COVID-19 quarantine orders were in place, Chuck and I scrambled to change up our production approach in order for us, and our collaborators, to work remotely. At that time, I reached out to Keith to work out details of having him on the record, and as luck would have it, he had access to studio time during lockdown. I gotta say, it feels pretty good to have such a prolific and experimental artist, who's career I've followed most of my adult life make an appearance on our record.