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Lucas Foster don’t rap beef.
The first time I met Eric North was October 26th, 2019: a crisp fall morning in Los Angeles. Laser white sun beams peaked between blinders to poke me awake. Not yet 10 AM, the first sensible sleeping arrangement I’d come across in a few weeks was disintegrating to sweaty black leather and crinkled red eyes. I stumbled to the kitchen and poured Evan Williams into a glass and prepared to embark on another day of life and death in Downtown LA.
You descend from a hill in Lincoln Heights where four bedroom stucco one stories are utilized as chicken farms and suburbia begins in nighttime silence. Where one house is occupied by participants in indie rock gentrification and the rest are participants in post-Vietnam immigration and assimilation. When you get to the bottom of that hill you are back to the realities of bus stops and park bathrooms and syringes and menthols and tents and sleeping bags. But none of those are on your back so you descend further towards the skyline, those rough edged corners and precisely angled pieces of glass in the sky up above. Those masses of people between each metal-doored garage shutter that calls itself a business and the bulletproof glass that displays hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry.
Here we are, between the thieves and crooks, amongst the drifters and grifters. It’s the Gallery District and there’s as many crack dealers out as there are shoppers and some of those shoppers pay 5 thousand dollars a month to live here, to descend into this chaos each day. There’s so much art here, it’s not just abjection and absurdity, it’s the art subsidized by the Gallery Class. There is no grand narrative to these public installations, no communication of ideology, no sense of public stewardship nor intent to be places of communal worship and congregation.
This is sheer abstraction. Rough metal sculptures shooting into the air for no rhyme or reason but the singular expression of shiny, obtuse, clean protrusion. Bunker Hill to wherever I’m going.
I’m in the midst of the crowd I love, drunk on a half liter of cheap whiskey, smiling and looking for friends amongst the madness who maybe will wink back.
So I run into a woman, a white woman, with hello kitty headphones on, she winks back, she knows. There’s something playfully knowing about her, about both of us, she’s a model now, a model for my ancient iPhone. She’s maybe impoverished and maybe lying and maybe me 7 years and a few genders in the future.
“I’m going to West Africa tomorrow”
“What are you doing there?”
“It’s lawless over there, I can do whatever I want. I’m selling spiders.”
It’s 1 pm, the sun is going to get too low to see between these shiny black mirrors. It’s time to feel more than what reality is offering.
T isn’t answering. I like T, he’s by the Gallery district, he lives in a loft, he has the best speed this side of Heaven or Las Vegas. He knows who Lil Gotit is. This is the sort of man you should buy drugs from! But he’s maybe asleep and maybe unavailable so I go back to a restaurant by a smoke shop and up a stairwell and hand off a few twenties for sherm blunts and some gasoline rock.
Have you ever smoked PCP? It’s best described as staring down the barrel of a gun. A .38 shooting you to levitation above your body, sped up by the 50 retweets of dopamine in every pull on any pookie. Floating, your head is an avatar, an apparition; no body below, or if there is one it’s a body without organs. Red backpacks and volkswagons bleed together to a Rorscarch test. The blue sky isn’t blue lit, it’s aquamarine, it’s yellow, it’s an orgasm. You can’t feel yourself between the abstraction, between us all.
This is the state one should be in when engaged in a Debordian derive through Downtown Los Angeles. Especially when one is going to run into phantograms and anagrams of the reptilians, the archons who have been whispered to roam these streets late every night, interdimensional shapeshifters preying on the suffering and despair of the speedball zombies and finance gangsters. If you’re around 5th and Figuroea, 10/26, or any time in September or October, you have inevitably heard the story of police officers attempting to decapitate a reptilian. And as they put a saw to the green humanoid’s head he laughed maniacally, cackled above the din of buzzing lights and engines, suddenly apparited to a roof down the block and pushed a woman to her death. Screaming “NO! NO! NOOOOO!”
But as colors turned to stone and Ghostie played on my earphones I of course ran into one of these demonic entities. He winked back.
5 hours later and I’m on my way to watch Diversa Unit perform across the street from the abandoned LAPD station on Skid Row.
Diversa Unit is Lord Pusswhip, a 28-year-old Icelandic music journalist turned integral cog in the social and sonic fabric of Los Angeles’ warehouse rap scene, Terr9r, a 20-year-old Harlem native who brings Future to the abrasion of Post-Trap Metal, Soulm4te, a 19-year-old cybernetic anime hologram, LASSU (the blood brother of real life pop star Bazzi) bringing you jungle, deep house, and footwork from the darkest corners of Skid Row, and Anti-World’s finest electronic post-trap scientist 20-year-old Eric North. Soulm4te looks like an artificial intelligence generated J-Pop star, Terr9r looks like a Goth Alprazolam Pterodactyl, and Eric’s rocking blood red dreads and black metal makeup.
We get our wristbands and descend past the doors and into the function. It’s their first show, really, and they are hired to open in a venue decorated like a YMCA Middle School Halloween Dance. The audience of Warped Tourites are not here to hear the next and now of experimental rap music and we are not here to perform to them. Terr9r and I share the last swigs of my Evan Williams and Eric and I make small talk about the sort of reference points shared by RateYourMusic users and members of the [redacted] community.
Some DJ is spinning Black Marble and the Cure anime lo-fi study type beats so we shit on them in giggles and then they are given the mic without much any preparation or Sound Man interaction. Autumn sits on the stage and puts blue bangs in her face and mumbles her first song a half dozen times as the microphone outputs or mixer fails over and over again. Could not render this file. Eric and Terr9r join her when the simulation disk stops skipping to scream and do whatever else in front of plastic bats and cotton candy spiderwebs. As quick as they began, they are off and we are too. And somewhere in a Downtown loft in a studio session I find new friends, leaving to roam those black lit late October streets, the moon lighting silver-lined clouds that sift between green buildings. The end of things happening as quickly as they begun.
Today is the 6th of April 2020 and darkness has seeped into every pore and orifice of us, of whoever we are, of whatever it was that happened here. Our rulers cackle maniacally from their livestreamed podiums, hold summits and write think pieces and project graphs onto screens. Here document the crimes of a global ruling class of finance gangsters, effeminate careerists, obvious intelligence agents, and out and out criminals is…
Name a public intellectual. Name a writer and a thinker working today. Name one who has wrote a proper scathing condemnation of the comic absurdity of our world’s plunge into darkness. Name a publication or a journal that normal people read every day and can rely on for news right now. One that doesn’t have a conflict of interest with the CIA.
Us on the street level, those who spend times outside of the comfortable bubble of insulation a parent-subsidized loft in Williamsburg may provide. Those of use who have to put on a mask and experience the ruins, we have a much different perspective. You can cut the tension in Downtown Los Angeles with a knife. You can feel the darkness closing in.
Eric North is inside now, as we all are. He lives in a 4×8 closet in Greenville, North Carolina. Next to a water heater. It’s hot inside. It’s 90 degrees, every hallway, every room outside of this closet in this room is suffocating now. He’s been indoors for weeks.
A week ago Eric heard Sway’s Millia Pink & Green EP and he began splicing and dissecting this 2003 dream pop album into the sonic pinks and greens and reds of his portraits of suffering. He opens a terminal there and begins splicing and dissecting under his digital audio workplace’ microscope. Brings the cybernetic threads of post-trap into the fabric, takes a needle and stabs himself in the heart and pulls that black and red mess into the mix. Here’s house music, here’s Nine Inch Nails, here’s Aphex Twin. Here’s a half decade of experimentation conducted by Sybyr, Ghostie, Eric North, Shark, Wolf, Bruhmanegod, and dozens of other members of Anti-World, discovering new sonic pallettes and textures through infusing trap’s left field with hundreds of metal, electronic, and punk rock influences.
“Distancing” though begins the LP, a song that splices an obscure dream pop album with all of those sounds to project an image of his loneliness and discomfort in that tiny closet amongst our quarantine hell. Which is what the album continues to do for the next four songs. That is: create a new palette of sonic textures for post-trap to get more dancey, more electronic, less boring. “Shatterfly” and “Blow My Mind” cannot really be called rap beats, the percussion more four on the floor than a traditional rap beat, the rest pulling samples from Daft Punk solo albums and other synth weirdness.
Eric has been innovating in such a way since he was 16, and now at 20 he has reached the grandmaster level of production: able to create the music that was in his head the entire time. Creating new places for rap to go is probably not supposed to be so easy to listen to.
Read the Terminal 4 lyric book here.