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Evan Nabavian‘s YouTube algorithm is chaotic good.
A typical song from Massachusetts rapper-producer Al Divino sees him and a peer attacking a loop laden with generations worth of electromechanical fuzz. Al Divino’s beats retain all the distortion and damage that a recording can accumulate through age, neglect, and shoddy transfers. He isn’t kind to these beats. He tears them up in a guttural snarl that sounds like a parking lot fight between M.O.P. and Onyx. He then smothers his tracks with a cacophony of shouted, echoing adlibs. Hooks are very rare. He usually cuts the beat off before the two minute mark.
Two new EPs offer different flavors of delirium from Al Divino. POWER PACK has the pace of a beat tape, quickly introducing garish and splashy ideas and discarding them as soon as you acclimate to them. “New Character” sounds like a neo noir acid trip. On “Camelcrushwithdust,” he doesn’t even rap. He uses a synthy Ohbliv beat to scream like a 2000s mixtape DJ about smoking PCP and growing a hippie beard. Power Pack features significant contributions from producer Vinyl Villain and rapper Bravdon.
MGNTK with fellow Massachusetts rapper BoriRock is an even bigger surprise because Divino occasionally employs dance tempos, giving the vibe of a roller rink where an indiscretion can result in a liquor bottle to the temple. It’s billed to both artists, but BoriRock handles most of the rapping. The mixing is as muddy as ever. “Hoot York” is a Sunday night at the Tunnel if Funkmaster Flex played disco. “Yinterlude” sees BoriRock covering “Friends” by Whodini and screaming on it like a drunk at a barbecue. It’s irresistible in its simplicity.
Al Divino basks in shattered conventions and flouted expectations. Dusty loops are par for the course. He makes Da Beatminerz sound like ABBA.
Below are my picks from Al Divino’s discography. Son Raw previously did a similar exercise for this website, but Divino is prolific enough that few of our picks overlap.