Luke Benjamin models his game after Luc Longley.
Michael Jordan was a miraculous and rapturous performer, not beholden by the same gravity or physical limitations as the rest of us. He was also singularly driven to an unhealthy extent, a domineering competitor in every aspect of his life. 1993 was his Coup de Grace: the end of a three peat, with the added glory of another scoring title—ignominy tagging closely along. A shock retirement followed the titles and the ‘93 season, spurred—depending on who you ask—by the death of his father or mounting gambling debts and pressures.
Regardless, Jordan’s abrupt sabbatical made that ’93 Bulls team, if not the best Bulls vintage, inarguably the most complicated and interesting. I don’t know if this is the reasoning behind an LA based rap trio choosing ‘93 Bulls’ as their nom de guerre, but I do know that for anyone alluding to that bleary neoliberal decade, the Bulls are one of the true immutable symbols of the zeitgeist.
Whereas the actual basketball playing Bulls can be interpreted as representing the late 20th century orthodoxy of both the NBA and the country—star and celebrity dominated, ego-maniacal, and simmering with systemic issue beneath a glossy surface—93 Bulls largely break from any temporal convention, whether present or nostalgic.
Their technique and sound can feel partly indebted to pieces of the nineties, but is pocked with an avant-garde pointillism that borrows as much from art-rap and a nebulous understanding of contemporary genre borders as it does from any tradition. The whole is distorted, variegated in broken tones, and vertiginous, detached, and remarkably precise rapping—spotting production that ranges from garage-adjacent to grungy and industrial.
Cool Calm Chrys, the angeleno rapper of the trio, is nimble and dry, lightly buzzed with humor and sardonic insight that appear tightly within his lexicon. His steady delivery and charmingly blunt character give cohesion to the more spacey directions of the record. Brendan Lynch Salmon and Ryan Pollie are the co-conspirators who provide for the rest of the self-titled and styled album, psychedelic recesses and alien synthesizers as reconcilable in their work as the more earthy and human textures of “Silver Lining.”
The opening sequence of which reads like a concise statement of the groups ethos: “Mama’s only son will probably never ever make a buck/ Silver lining metaphors, will never get a paper cut.” Caustic and unpostured art followed as far as it wants to be, without pretension to any importance besides being very good in its own space.
“Silver Lining” is the closer for the 5 track project, following “Cannabis,” a driving meditation on the processes that constitute living: The mundanities of being short $10, or on time, collaged against the more lofty steps of making a truly consequential album or life. Aside from these are the whirling “Sippin,” codeine soaked and careening, and the washed out and sun beaten “Denim Pockets,” both comprising the more indulgent, binge-laden retreat of the album’s midpoint.
93 Bulls is in total, extremely good and tangible, of something left field and Los Angeles that feels both out of time and just right for this moment. Maybe near a peak but also navigating a minefield of making art in a country that doesn’t fund it, of living in a city that is quickly becoming unaffordable, of straining to do something meaningful before oblivion or rising seas. It remains to be seen if a three-peat is in the cards for 93 Bulls, but for now, let’s just enjoy the opening tip.