Max Bell is locked in this cold world.
Rap is forever the genre of the disenfranchised. Yet every private school in America has its faction of pallid rap fans willing to shell out their parents’ money for online proximity to the violence they’ll never know. I think Macklemore made a song about this, but Asad Ill articulates the divide and disconnect more convincingly in his video for “Cold World,” the second single from his Order Label debut, Manifest Destiny.
Over a sparse, ethereal instrumental courtesy of Big Game Huntaz (Eureka the Butcher & Nobody), Asad fires one direct and uncompromised line after another. The ills of drug distribution, institutionalized racism,and gang violence are outlined and analyzed. His words are visceral more than cerebral, the kind of rhetoric that sticks.
In the video, the once homeless Leimert Park rapper (more here) stalks the dark streets of an unidentifiable tract of L.A. with a Confederate flag in tow. He raps standing in front of barbed chain link and seated on a set grimy, graffiti splattered steps. Footage of police brutality and the riots born of the injustice are spliced throughout. It ends with gasoline and flaming polyester. Most will understand the impetus, but few would be willing to be caught holding the match.