Young Socrates is a 20-year-old alternative hip-hop artist, producer and mixing engineer From Lagos, Nigeria and based in Murfreesboro, TN. He’s made something of a name for himself with a series of Soundcloud releases over the last year. He’s notable for heavily industrial production, an experimental mixing style, and lyrics with heavy philosophical and absurdist themes. Following some success from lead singles, Kill the Gods was released last week and it’s quite an experience.
The record opens with what is perhaps my favorite cut, “Slow Victim.” The instrumental intro clocks in just under two minutes, but captures a fascinating style in such a short time. The repetitive percussion and electronic sound pallet is immediately gripping, and the continued additions of layer after layer build to a cacophonous fever pitch. The track is at once fascinating, yet alienating, and it sets a strong tone for the rest of the project.
The title track follows with a slightly softer pallet and introduces Socrates’ vocals quite well. The odd time signature and lack of overall structure makes the track fairly unpredictable, and the short runtime insures that the listener never does quite catch up. That being said, the lyrics are introspective and draw an interesting and quite informed link to the work of Absurdist legend Albert Camus by treating the mundanity of everyday as a hell in of itself.
“The Light,” begins with a uniquely organic sound, featuring an intriguing bass riff and a soft, but somewhat lifeless piano lead. The vocal performance is a bit hard to grasp, but tonally, it works quite well. The soulless, almost 8-bit sound effects which perform the hook are an excellent touch, and it’s this blend of the recognizable and comforting with the lifeless and at times disorienting which characterizes what is so impressive about this project.
The EP’s most popular single, “Devil in the Streets,” falls fourth, and it’s a much more straightforward cut than previous tracks. Lyrically, this is clear and away the highlight of tracklist, with Socrates’ biting critique of religion coming through in every line, though cut with a healthy dose of absurdism in its refusal to provide serious solutions. The percussion is also at its best here, with a sharp snare slicing the mix in half during the verse. These qualities combined with yet another odd structure and short runtime make for one of the best tracks on the record.
“Old Jargon,” is the closer and by far the longest cut in the list. Because of this, the lyrics are far more sprawling and, while a bit unfocused, center on the same themes of religious criticism and Absurdism. The instrumental gets a bit repetitive, but the synths are well performed and abrasive guitar lines are excellent. Ultimately, it’s a strong finish to an excellent project.
All my praise of this EP notwithstanding, I am left with a few minor criticisms. A few of the instrumentals, while well mixed and produced, could use more variety. If each track had carried the intensity of the opener, or explored some more adventurous sonic ideas, this could’ve been solved. Additionally, Socrates’ flow could do with a bit more range. Though his rhyme schemes are impressive and entertaining, the lack of unique delivery on each track masks a lot of the work that went into the lyricism.
Ultimately, however, Kill the Gods is fantastic! Lyrically, the intentional and well written inclusion of heavily philosophical themes is quite an accomplishment, made all the more noticeable by a perfectly cohesive tone in each track. It’s well written, daring, and often bewildering upon the first few listens.
Kill the Gods isn’t perfect, but it’s quite fascinating and a strong first entry to the Young Socrates catalog.
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