mon 23/07/2018

CD: ZGTO - A Piece of the Geto | reviews, news & interviews

CD: ZGTO - A Piece of the Geto

CD: ZGTO - A Piece of the Geto

Detroit duo take hip hop off the rails into outright strangeness

An enigma in sequins

The term “hip hop” has become a catch-all that now includes a multitude of autotuned chart-pop rubbish which bears no relation to the genre’s origins, central tenets or recognised sonic imprint. Is Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” hip hop? Many would say so, due to it having the visual identifiers of hip hop. But it isn't really, is it? At the other end of the scale, there are artists who’ve wandered off into all manner of abstract electronica, with LA’s Low End Theory/Brainfeeder axis the most acknowledged hub for such activity. ZGTO fall into this latter category and, while some of their music slides off into pure experimentalism, A Piece of the Geto mostly stays more attuned to what hip hop is really about than, say, Chris Brown.

ZGTO are MC ZelooperZ, one of the more oddball talents involved with hip hop star Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade label/collective, and producer Shigeto, a name in underground electronic circles, both of them from Detroit. Their combined sound mixes muted, underwater-sounding, narcotised backing tracks with ZelooperZ’s drawling, croaky, nasal wordage, heavily flavoured with the whole Dirty South “purple drank” word-swallowing thing (i.e. mumbling due to being out of it on fizzy pop mixed with codeine-heavy cough syrup).

There are occasional choruses, as on “Whippin’”, but for the most part A Piece of the Geto is about a hypnotic, stoned mood, with the closing “Unfold” even riding a relentless twisting, mantric synth tone worthy of Finnish noiseniks Pansonic. “I’ve been smoking dope since they had the Afghan,” runs a lyric in “Band Man”, and there are regular asides that reference drug-dealing, but it’s certainly not about boasting or revelling in riches. Instead, there’s a smudgy, doomed ambience which, at times, as on the strangely tuneful “Off Dat” or the momentarily romantic “Unconditional Love”, achieves beauty.

ZGTO have created something original, up with the most vanguard abstraction released by Ninja Tune sub-label Big Dada and the like. Over an album’s length it would benefit from more variety and a few more structured songs but, in the meantime, it’s an intriguing debut.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Off Dat" by ZGTO

There are regular asides referencing drug dealing, but it’s certainly not about boasting or revelling in riches


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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