Jam Baxter is a musical oddity, juxtaposed by mystery and popularity. The public go wild for his style of profound rap but the person behind that is not so obvious. …So We Ate Them Whole, produced by the equally elusive Chemo, serves as a tiny window into the twisted mind of one of the most intriguing artists of our time.
…SWATW is a mixture of splattering guts, marinated babies, slipping on human blood and yamming on grubs and worms. It’s also the most experimental foray into production since Rinse Out Friday, where no stone is left unturned in Chemo’s repertoire of beats.
The album is quintessentially surreal and riddled in complexity. Wings Cost Extra, track one of fourteen, is a maddening tour around an extraordinary city. One part overtly imaginary and the other part a slick social commentary about urban society. Ethereal piano keys descend into a heavy, rolling drum pattern where the weirder the narrative the more loopy the music becomes. The beauty comes in the form of Baxter’s storytelling where snippets of bizarre worlds collide and grotesque humans come to life:
‘The smell of crack wafts from the brothel beside the chicken shop/above a sewer teaming with giant beetles and killer wasps/opposite the corner where kids gorge on forbidden slop/and when their stomach’s burst… wipe their innards off’
‘I spat the phlegm out of my mouth and swung a left/past the crowd of braying patriots dying a dozen deaths/and the crazed woman drilling a hole in her lover’s chest’.
Undoubtedly a remarkable way to open an album and in true Baxter fashion what comes next is even greater than the last. Duly achieved in the form of Leash pt I, which harbours all the comical vulgarity of Gruesome Features with the aggressive undertone rife on Rinse Out Friday. Meanwhile Incoming flirts with reality and strange fiction once more, forming an abstract creation of gonzo hip hop set to blow the minds of everyone who listens to it.
Throughout the course of the album there are many staggering moments. One that particularly stands out is the stunning steel drum soundscape Chemo creates on Husk twinned with the rare sampling found on Fantastic Man. Each track is uniquely challenging in its own respect in terms of lyricism and the innovative beats behind the music.
Here Baxter has created an album where the boundaries of what is considered to be normal in hip hop are broken. No track forthrightly tells you what he’s thinking or how he has got there in order to make the music. It’s that specific kind of unknown ambiguity which guides the strength of the vibe the entire way through. If you’re looking for brash and in your face look elsewhere but if you’re after barefaced honesty covered in a psychedelic dust its here. And it’s brilliant.
Review by Louise Brisbane
Album launch – Friday 19 December @ Brixton Jamm – Click here for tickets.