Having come of age musically in the late 90's, when the marriage of rock and hip-hop was mangled so badly it became criminal to even suggest, I get a serious thrill when I hear someone do it right. And holy crap does Afropunk member Labtekwon get it right! Channeling HR by way of Immortal Technique on the single “Slamdancin” from his forthcoming record Hardcore, Labtekwon makes hip-hop that dares to be rough around the edges and righteously DIY.
Gallons of blood and ink have been spilled about how punk rock and hip-hop are natural partners, so it's surprising how rarely they team up. Or at least, how rarely they team up successfully. (The only thing worse than the obligatory jokey white-boy-hip-hop track on fratty-pop-punk records is the obligatory jokey white-boy-reggae track on that same record...Though technically this is all the Beastie Boys' fault, I prefer to lay the blame on someone more deserving of scorn: Sum-41...) “Stranger than a love triangle with Mahatma Gandhi, Blondie, and Mitt Romney / and I don't spit for these hipster zombies / gotta be like Marcus Garvey...” is as good a mission statement as they come. Labtekwon's dense rapid-fire rhymes may be delivered with a hip-hop flow, but they have the fury and intensity of hardcore.
The record is out now, and Labtekwon has been steadily posting videos to his youtube pagesince the summer. Each one is surreal and wonderful in their own way. His 10 minute sermons on “The Truth About Christianity” and “The Truth About Race” are as mind-bogglingly ambitious as they are informative. Thankfully, Labtekwon included footnotes. No, seriously. Check the youtube video. Tell me that's not hardcore.
- Words by Nathan Leigh