It seems Malkovich is here for a reason; the hand of fate had the perpetually-kinetic MC leave New York a week before 9/11, London a week before the Tube bombings, Istanbul a week before the attack in the city square, and Jamaica two days before Hurricane Gustav tore through the island; and he hasn’t stopped travelling since. His willingness to relocate to wherever the current producer he’s collaborating with has kept him constantly on the road; resulting in a refreshingly honest and lyrically expansive perspective on his 2013 album Great Expectations.
Storm Chasers lets you know you’re in the company of Hip Hop heads from the get-go, and when Malkovich starts spinning rhymes about Huxley’s Brave New World and name-drops Salman Rushdie, you know this isn’t about to be a standard rap album. Lies finds him literally carrying his emotional baggage on his back, flowing with pure passion on a catchy hook; while the title track ponders ‘maybe we’re just daydreams in god’s brain’ with a calm simplicity that would make Alan Watts proud. What I Know is commercial without glorifying materialism, Palm’s rugged stomp offers storytelling bars rooted in neighbourhood life; and a fresh flip of a classic sample finds him expanding his lyrical environment further on an ode to Cali.
Through The Trees cuts like strobe lights through smoke-filled rooms, with ambient samples that change up the pace, providing a distinct audio environment for Ali Abnormal, Blvme, Sum and Chris Clarke to bounce slick bars off each other. Cry America illuminates the sprawling urban metropolis over a dusted break; while Core Rhythm and Sum both kill their verses on Lions In Winter. Malkovich drops gems over a tense piano loop on Get Away, takes on a more commercial sound on the pop-hooks of Waiting For You, and as Sundays closes this solid album with loose bars draped over a smooth jazz loop, this talented rhymer ends with more heavy bars. After years of constant work, radio play from DJ Premier and Gilles Peterson, and c0llabs with House Shoes and Prince Po, the momentum Malkovich has built shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon; not even for terrorism or natural disasters.
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