Get Your Smoking Jacket: Nacho Picasso & Blue Sky Black Death “Stoned & Dethroned”

Nacho Picasso and Blue Sky Black Death reunite for the album that Seahawks should be pre-gaming to.
By    January 23, 2015


Torii MacAdams is at Subway if anyone wants to hang

How many ways can one sniff cocaine off a man’s genitals? Physics dictates a theoretical limit, but in the terrifyingly blowed out world of Nacho Picasso, this counts as theology. Stoned & Dethroned, Nacho’s latest full-length, spends 45 minutes trying to answer that query. Like a junkie to the fix, Picasso can only stay away from Blue Sky Black Death for so long; Stoned & Dethroned is their fourth full-length collaboration. Despite an appreciation for BSBD’s prior work, I was loath to give the album a listen—my pre-existing opinion about Nacho was that he couldn’t rap. I’d lumped him into an agglomeration of cloud rappers who probably peaked in 2012, but Stoned & Dethroned righted me one silly punchline at a time.

Nacho’s not an enlightening lyricist by traditional metrics—neither storyteller nor jeremiad-deliverer—but he’s a memorable lyricist. Hip-hop is rife with rappers who think they’re funny because of factotums paid to punctuate blunt rolling with laughter, but Nacho is legitimately funny. “Coke Hyena,” Stoned & Dethroned’s opening cocaina paean, immediately sold me on Nacho as a rapper with lines like:

•“I’m like Webbie’s haircut– I’m blowed out,”

• “I’m sniffin’ soft now, not Roc Nation/Sniff a little off my cock, ya’ caucasian,”

•“I got dumb swag– California Raisins.”

• “Shave the white girl myself– call it G.I. Jane”

And that’s just first song! He calls his girl Valerie Vomit (“In A Trance”), rocks out like Fishbone, California’s answer to The Specials (“Money Master)”, and compares himself to Ice-T, “because [his] honkey got a donkey bum” (“Ghost”). Jokes, in rap or otherwise, derive much of their humor from delivery, which Nacho nails; the casualness with which Nacho unfurls absurdities is the fine line between listenability and Chino XL. He’s the smart ass in the back of class who got too stoned at lunch, his wonderful eccentricity and wide scope of cultural reference more than compensating for his over-reliance on simile and metaphor. In Blue Sky Black Death, Nacho’s found companions eager to draw veiny dicks on homework and smoke shake in the special ed bathroom.

What really binds Stoned & Dethroned and makes it feel cohesive is BSBD’s production work. BSBD are probably overly-prolific—every few months seems to bring another collaboration, beat tape, or studio album, and the steady stream (deluge, even) can feel overwhelming. Their sound is spiraling, purple, and breathy, the stuff of REM sleep. BSBD bear obvious Houston influences, and were doing spacey, knee-deep-in-muddy lean instrumentals before every Trill-hatter on SoundCloud discovered A$AP Rocky. Nacho’s an illicit substance appreciator and serial womanizer, and his comic book collector perversions are complemented by BSBD’s promethazine darkness. What BSBD’s production sometimes lacks is edge; Nacho’s usually ready with a quip, but the combination of his syrupy flow and BSBD’s somnambulant beats can loosen the double-cup grip a finger too far.

Stoned & Dethroned isn’t a high-minded album, in the intellectual sense, at least. Nacho’s more intelligent than he lets on, but unlike many of his fellow Seattleites, his music isn’t the platform for abstract artistry or social justice sabre rattling. Nacho raps like a wide-eyed boy who saw Sir Mix-A-Lot’s overstuffed Mercedes limousine sending sparks off the Broadway pavement and thought “I need me that.” Between the fictional then and very real now, hallucinogens and Frank Miller punched Nacho in his neural circuitry. Somewhere in the grayscale pallor of Seattle, Nacho Picasso is laying in bed and smoking a blunt. He’s probably watching Darkwing Duck DVDs, and figuring out the best way to rap about fucking your bitch.

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