Premiere: XVRHLDY Covers Gil Scott-Heron

Iman Shumpert listens to this while David Blatt is speaking.
By    May 15, 2015


Tosten Burks is for hire.

In which XVRHLDY rips Jamie XX’s refix of the late Gil Scott-Heron harder than the appropriated Scott-Heron himself. If you missed the original cover of the original, Jamie swaps the poet’s marching bass drum and open space for 200-bpm snare clatter, twilight synths, and Baby Washington. The Chicago rapper patiently keeps pace, unspooling tragedy at obtuse angles, preserving as a chorus the spoken word gawd’s helpless ode to addicts, but slicing at the rest like a tired hood therapist.

Which makes sense. From the west side suburb of Oak Park, land of Frank Lloyd Wright tours, Xavier Holliday graduated from Roosevelt University in 2012 with a psychology degree. When he says, “Nerves are chords,” you know the science is sound. But the manic pessimist needs a gastroenterologist – he has stomach pain (from a lack of monetary gain). Lithe and nasally like 3Stacks, XVRHLDY laments his own medicine-attaining men, observes the monochrome graves, the dark irony of a life-breaking cycle as reliable as a well-oiled bike chain. He flees to art, but the ratchet brought along to the show can barely pronounce Picasso. What’s Matisse to do then?

Along with this POW premiere, we’re bumping X’s March album, Need To Know II: Luna, because all who hit their girls with classical music deserve shine. Someone buy Mayweather some Chopin. The tape’s writing is tight, but it breathes, tricky bursts of internal rhyme darting like wind. Rich tales of broke mishap in the climate where the lizards breathe. The beats are metallic and brooding, the Spanish impeccable. Saba and NoNameGypsy carve metaphors into stone; Supa Bwe wails about magical flowers. Somehow we end up in Machu Picchu. Roll a crutch and listen.

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