$ilkmoney is an exceptionally talented rapper, whose lyrics both attack authorities and the powerful, and examine the artist’s own psyche. Given the quality of his former two albums, with production and features from generational treasure Tyler, the Creator on the most recent (I Hate My Life and Really Wish People Would Stop Telling Me Not To), it is surprising that $ilkmoney retains a relatively low profile. On Attack of the Future Shocked, Flesh Covered, Meatbags of the 85, the Virginia rapper exceeds the high standards set by his previous two efforts. Here, he raps with powerful presence and intensity about his disillusionment and anger with society, and his frustration with most of the population’s obliviousness to the injustices surrounding them.
Opening track Detour comprises an eerie sci-fi/horror synth, and nightmarish sounds. Which are swiftly undercut by the next track, I Wanna Be the Superbug When I Grow Up’s jazzy piano samples and paradisiacal atmosphere. Lyrics discuss a life of luxury – but one that is surely to be curtailed by disaster.
On White People Don’t Clean Their Chicken, $ilkmoney goes after other rappers he deems inauthentic, employing a hilarious butter metaphor in which he likens them to inferior, knock-off butter brands. He expresses frustration at having to dumb down his message so that listeners will understand it. Lastly, the rapper condemns the government for failing to provide adequate housing, despite promising to do so, and vows to go ‘Columbine’ (an allusion to the infamous and tragic Columbine massacre) and ceasing fighting against the system’s injustice only when he is in his grave.
The next track is hilariously titled Oh No! Nepalese Honey Spilt All over My Dick!, and samples an obscure Madlib song (Left on a Silverlake) off his instrumental Hip Hop album Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes. This beat, as we would expect given its origins on a Madlib track, is exceptional, and lends $ilkmoney’s track a utopian feel. That is appropriate since the rapper’s lyrics mention again that the human race’s demise is probably imminent. Ash from the eruption of Yellowstone will ‘ensure that we’re all black’, he suggests. $ilkmoney, being a member of the Nation of Islam, also believes the unenlightened 85% pose an existential threat to humanity, he questions repeatedly: ‘How the fuck I’m’a stay alive?’. He and other 5 Percenters possess true and rare knowledge, and $ilkmoney ridicules those who waste money on college, which he’d prefer to spend on weed. The artist also fears that government agents (‘agents of Reagan’) pervade and intend to harm him and other Black Americans.
Amena Sehay evokes a murderer, who goes unpunished, before $ilkmoney takes further blows at the unenlightened, pledging to ‘slice a 85-er like papaya’. This One’s a doozie contains a skit of an old advertisement, warning of forthcoming doom, in a way that reminds the listener of underground Hip Hop classic Madvillainy.
On Black Hefty Bag Test, the rapper condemns those who enjoy stolen black culture and music without realising it has been appropriated. He then describes the state of society as a ‘cyber-initiative’ full of ‘cyber-organisms’, lamenting the sheep-like obedience of most people.
The title Snort Ashwagandha Root Powder again makes reference to a South-Asian therapeutic substance (as well as Nepalese honey). Perhaps this reveals his longing for societies that differ radically from his own Western society. $ilkmoney bluntly confesses ‘I hate white people’, and that he sometimes wishes his people were still segregated. He also frustrates that Coronavirus is effectively being used to veil other issues.
The Pump Didn’t Kill Him, He Drowned in the Fountain samples the famous Kate Bush song ‘Wow’. This track masterfully brings together two worlds that are usually miles apart, conjuring an ethereal and soothing backdrop, over which $ilkmoney spits. His aggressive, angry and fast-paced delivery contrasts starkly and yet complements wonderfully Bush’s vocals. The rapper incites listeners to effective action against the injustices of society (‘fuck a peaceful protest’), in spite of the dangers this may bring.
Weesnaw again jabs at white appropriators of black culture, and reiterates the need to take action with a view to real change. There is no use wallowing in despair, ‘I used to be just like you/broke and mad at the world’.
On Did You Getcho Check, Lil Brah?, $ilkmoney expresses the irritation of being stuck at home during lockdown, that he can so easily be controlled by authority. His lyrics discuss the general struggles of survival, and paranoia that government employees are coming to murder him. He affirms that if he dies by supposed ‘suicide’, his death will not have been of his own doing but a result of society – whether directly or through their harmful influence.
Attack of the Future Shocked is an excellent album, which addresses some extremely dark topics. This by no means takes away from the pleasure of listening to it, and listeners of underground hip hop will doubtless enjoy it.
Image: Ian Goodwin via Flickr