Self Provoked – Welcome To My Castle

Last week found me asking if anyone was producing music that drew attention to the current landscape shaped by the new media. Self Provoked came to mind.

Now, it’s a little know fact that when my age was barely into double figures I formed, with my friend Chris (he who lived next door with the Beastie Boys’ album), a rap group called Lyric and Rhyme. I don’t recall who was who, but I do recall attempting to make backing tracks by taping snippets of songs off the radio – Tim Westwood’s show on Capital FM was a good source for this. However, our discovery of guitars put paid to this venture. Hips hops loss etc.

I’m mentioning this because this year has had me listening to more hip hop than usual. Self Provoked is someone who definitely caught my ear. There have been albums by Kendrick Lemar and Run the Jewels also. But where their music is dense, the production layered (and to great effect), Self Provoked raps amongst open, organic, seemingly sparse spaces. (By accident or design the videos for his songs, like ‘Turned Tables’, or ‘Ladders’, feature Self Provoked once removed from people, the crowds you associate with those city streets, so mirroring the production.)

Self Provoked’s album, Triangles, has a sense of claustrophobia that feels very much created by that landscape I’ve been trying to articulate. The songs sometime critique, sometimes observe, but always do so with unease, a constant understanding that a slight movement is needed to always stay afloat on it. This is all delivered though from a standpoint and tone that is neither didactic nor sombre. For alongside the Eye of Providence / Panopticon allusions of ‘Supposed To’, the inventiveness of ‘Handcuffs’ in which run-ins with the police are reconfigured as long-time romantic relationship, is the pacifist (sorta) party song ‘Jiggy Jiggy’.

I could’ve chosen any of these songs today, but ‘Welcome to My Castle’ is the first track on the album. It’s a celebrity culture baiting (”I don’t give a shit what Kim K’s doing’), album opening statement of intent, of which I haven’t heard the like of for quite some time. What follows doesn’t let it down.

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