Max Bell is taking Peyton Manning’s latest playoff loss very hard
Rap prides itself on reverence. The revered retain some modicum of relevance; the genre grows while never losing sight of its roots. But of late, ardent genuflection at the altar of the Golden Era has become many a rapper’s default. At best its unimaginative, at worst its plagiarism. Not many are willing to trade reverence for informed reinvention.
Enter Ed-Ape. With a distinctive voice and singular sonic aesthetic he’s turning his fetishes – physical, aural, contemporary, decades old – into rapped reality. Thick women in compromising positions, barely legal girls of Thai descent, a vacation from vacation, a million dollar record contract – he wants them all and more.
Ape won Stones Throw’s remix contest late last year by rapping over the beat to Peanut Butter Wolf & Charizma’s “My World Premiere”. Aside from that there’s little known about the man behind the hirsute mask. From my research I’ve been able to glean the following: he’s from Queens, his government name may or may not be Christian Edward Guglielmo, he’s a member of N.Y. rap group The Bill Collectorz. I couldn’t find his age but I’m almost positive he spent his childhood listening to the Beastie Boys and Slick Rick and bombing Manhattan bound MTA cars.
The Bill Collectorz dropped two records on BandCamp in 2013 that received little promotion and were thus resigned to the ether. However, the video for their song “Space Walk” now has over 1.4 million views on YouTube. It looks tailored for the Adult Swim crowd. The visual aesthetic undoubtedly accounts for a majority of the views. For me, it was mostly the voice and the raps.
Ape’s voice is lascivious, the comedic inflection of Shock G’s “Humpty” meets the filthy bass drawl of Kleenrz’s era Self Jupiter. As suggestive and it is confident. He opens his verse on “Space Walk” by drinking carrot juice and eating goose liver then moves on to kinky contortions with women who have snake faces. Maybe there’s something in the Queens water that spawns psychedelically inclined gourmands with insatiable coital appetites. Maybe we should’ve written about this sooner.
The latest offering from Ape is Your Face Here, which he released gratis in conjunction with the 7” of his Stones Throw remix, “Up, Up, Up.” His production takes cues from bygone booms and baps but erects one idiosyncratic suite after another from the foundational framework. The beat for opener “Welcome to My House” is essentially a beat box echoed from inside of a bottle tempered by off-kilter percussion. “Young Thai Coconut” shifts shape throughout, seamlessly incorporating horns, guitars, keys, and more over murky drums. And then there are ricocheting bells on “Yes Sir” that sound between scratches, saxophone, and crisp claps. Describing the rest would be a disservice. Just know all are minimal and laid-back yet somehow hit with maximum efficacy. They are beats Beck might make if he did an entire album in the vein of “Where It’s At”.
The rhymes on Your Face Here are unapologetically animalistic. The reasoning behind Ape’s sobriquet is self-evident: breasts are soaked by cans of Schlitz, all posteriors are inspected for injections, oral must be given with no hands. With all carnal exploits comes a wit that cuts like Ape’s voice. At times, his rhymes fit between Kool Keith’s Dr. Octagon and Doom’s dirtiest.
Ape’s voice, humor, and ability to find the pocket are all essential, but Your Face Here succeeds because he vividly creates a character with one surreal, revealing bar after another. Ultimately, you believe him or you don’t. He has a harem of women with raging hormones at his beck and call; or he’s fashioning his world one drink and bong rip at a time behind padded fiberglass. And though there’s an undercurrent of nostalgia throughout, reminiscences on Nintendo games and stress weed, Pam Anderson and Pam Grier forever in pinup form, it’s a world that prizes oddity and originality over comparisons to predecessors. Not all of Ape’s fetishes will be gratified for this, but he might be able to rap at a venue near you in the near future. If your face is there, leave your girl at home.