January 26, 2015

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Tosten Burks ordered the ravioli.

If you’ve spent time in or near Wicker Park during the last decade-and-a-half, there’s a good chance cult DIY rapper Brian Wharton, more commonly known as Sharkula, has tried to sell you a CD or cassette. He tried to sell me one once, outside an Italian restaurant, where I had just enjoyed a strangely magical dinner with a strangely magical girl. He jokingly asked if I’d like to buy a gift for my wife. I’m not dating the girl anymore. I also declined the CD.

Sharkula’s legend is, well, legend. In 2010 Wharton estimated that ten different documentaries had been made about his life. He would know; permission for the projects was often granted on the condition that Wharton would receive some of the final DVDs, which he’d hawk on the streets alongside his music, audio diaries, and found-sound recordings. The songs are premium oddball rap, full of vulgar and goofy non-sequiturs, spewed with the rambling, whimsical laziness you’d expect from a rapper named Sharkula. Stream-of-consciousness punch lines over whatever loops or noises are available. Lil B with one million fewer Twitter followers.

Apparently, last October, Sharkula freestyled over five fingers of death produced by Brainfeeder-by-way-of-Chicago eccentric Jeremiah Jae, who decided to release the track on Soundcloud this week. Jae skitters here from the original Gumby theme song, to roller rink piano and WWII plane noises, to chipmunk’d hooks from The Hollies. Equally scattershot, Sharkula eats heads like kabobs (along with eyeballs and lips), serves falafels with cow balls, and dismembers other various body parts, including spleens, rectums, and hip bones. Ripped-out-throats he throws on socks, then laughs, then chuckles. In between the theatre of absurd, he cuts up with his demons, and claims to keep kosher. The explanation for everything: “I don’t give a fuck, it’s Halloween bitch.”

There are two lessons here. 1) Always, always, always buy for your bae the mixtape from the friendly stranger. 2) Don’t trick-or-treat at Sharkula’s house.

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