|Album Review: Ho99o9 Presents - 'TURF TALK: Vol. 1'|
TURF TALK: Vol. 1
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Under lockdown, many obscurities long buried have made a surprise comeback, necessitated by sheer boredom. The resurgence of the curated mixtape has been a highlight of this trend, and now rap-punk provocateurs Ho99o9 have thrown their tattered, blood-stained beanie into the ring with their new compilation TURF TALK: Vol. 1. For anyone not familiar with Ho99o9’s oeuvre, try to imagine all of Travis Scott’s in-house session producers in a battered studio, blunts laced with embalming fluid, while a speed-punk band sniff speed and play punk in the next room. TURF TALK: Vol. 1 gathers a variety of artists in a similar vein, winds them up and hurls them at an unsuspecting public with scant regard for the consequences. The artwork and style give the feel of an 80s DIY hardcore mixtape, one you might physically purchase at a show, which seems like a distant transaction now.
From the outset, limbs are flying and ligaments tearing. The ease with which punk vocals can be used on dirty trap beats has been exploited with increasing frequency over the last few years, and while Lil Uzi Vert might summon Blink 182, the artists on this compilation channel a more Discharge, Leftöver Crack type of atmosphere and it is entirely inclusive, on the proviso that you sign an injury disclaimer. The first track “Woke Up Dreaming” by N8NOFACE, Nah Ellis and elete goes directly for the jugular, the apocalyptic bass crushing all in its path and visceral vocals shredding through to pick up the stragglers. While some argue that a certain level of diplomacy is required when looking at complex societal issues, these artists respectfully disagree.
“Line in the sand, I’ll cross that shit
Nine in my hand, I’ll bust that shit
Cops killing kids, fuck that shit
Kids killing cops, yeah run that shit”
Whether or not you agree with the sentiment, you have to appreciate the refreshing honesty and the ability to slice through the swathes of bullshit and cut to the essence. Speaking of cutting to the essence, the distorted bass throb on “Tummy Tuck” goes at it with a buzz-saw. The track features Hoddy, The Young Jedi and Mother Lurk, who all dish out a variety of ice-cold, detached and demonic verses from a world where violence is treated so casually it almost becomes a chore. “Ima Die Wit It” veers straight into industrial punk without warning, frantic drums and humming synths giving way to some devastating performances from N8NOFACE, Yeti Bones and Pink Siifu. It has been argued that punk has outlived its expiry date by a decade and change, but it is variations on the formula like this which keep the genre alive. Black Flag tribute bands can not sustain the scene indefinitely.
On “Chasin Burgundy”, a horror score with a surf beat produced by LilBooth sets up Dani Miller from Brooklyn garage punks Surfbort to beat up the track with extreme relish. She raps, sings and screams her domination claims in a way which inspires little doubt. When a track opens with the lines “You can call me daddy and I like it that way, but you’re a little bitch and you’re gonna have to pay” those not clued up on gender politics may reel in bewilderment but the rest of us will give a knowing nod of acknowledgment, which is the highest honour for an artist.
Ho99o9 make their first appearance on the track “Mind Yo Bizness” alongside infamous Russian punk anarchists Pussy Riot, who rap in Russian with helpful subtitles provided in the music video which reveal yet more thinly veiled revenge threats against those who do not follow the instruction in the track title. TheOGM and Eaddy have no use for veils, and Eaddy in particular summons up the collective’s credo succinctly and clearly.
“Fuck that he-say, she-say, we-say shit
Judgment day or suck a dick
Jeter shirt, black nails
Hair slicked back like DJ Quik”
Hearing veterans like Ho99o9 drop into the mix and blend perfectly with the previous output is a testament to the artists on the roster. This bastard hybrid of styles may be a niche interest, but this album is evidence of a thriving future. “DATMYBU” is a significant change in pace from Jahsh Banks and MoRuff, being a love song over a nice simplistic beat with a melody line which is pleasing and creepy at the same time like a broken jack-in-a-box. There is an eeriness which threatens to creep in and take over at times, but never does.
“You got me dissing and that’s not me
I live by the peace
But if they ever come between
I might buy a piece”
The swampy, Three 6 Mafia sludge of “I Like Drank” mixes perfectly with its subject matter, which some quick minds may have been able to deduce. ’89 the Brainchild lays a thick sluggish drawl over the track which just sounds like lean hitting ice. Another song which may give alert you to its intentions using a title is “Y’all Don’t Sell Dope”, in which the intriguingly named Hollywood Dick questions the narcotic-peddling credentials of those who managed to escape the ocular pat-down over a spooky piano and ominous bass drone.
In TURF TALK: Vol. 1, Ho99o9 have clearly used their status to elevate upcoming artists in the same weird little corner of the market where their stall is set up. This encapsulates the true spirit of punk, camaraderie and tally-ho spirit, bandying together to stick it in the face of the filth and such. The abrasive and caustic nature of the music mean it is not suitable for all occasions, but completely effective in times you would like to be aurally assaulted and have your preconceptions spat back in your face. If that sounds appealing, grab the release here.