Skech185 recently left Chicago with his lovely girlfriend to make a new home for themselves in the Big Apple. Skech not only is a ferocious emcee that makes up one seventh of the Chicago collective Tomorrow Kings. What does this bring the future of TK? What can we expect from Skech with his touching down in NYC? Nothing can be foreseen, but surely this is a new chapter for the group.
So with this realization, I have come to the conclusion that my review of their debut album needs to see the light of day. It has been a long road for this review and I. I’ve shopped it all over town, and have seen nothing but closed doors. They want it, then they don’t want it. They are fans, but don’t think it fits their site. Ultimately it’s what Tomorrow Kings have been facing since their inception. They are too in your face. Too angry. Too smart. Too different. Too damn controversial. Well since Chicago has sent yet another hero, historian, and cohort in this hip hop thing to take on the east coast, I give you Another Wu Tang Comparison.
Tomorrow Kings Review: Another Wu Tang Comparison
From the opening tracks malicious drum rolls to the final hairpin flow of (TK member) Big Rob The Weirdo, the listener is caught in the web of Tomorrow Kings debut album Nigger Rigged Time Machine. What makes TK’s album stand out is it’s ability to subvert the standard while still keeping a close grasp on the roots of hip hop. They embrace their strange and make it accessible for the listener. The standard boom bap stylings of the underground are represented within the project, but ultimately the album hovers above the natural habitat of hip hop, and the sound and musical direction of this album represents a more industrial influenced alternative rap record.
This group of artists (7 Emcee’s and 1 DJ) have been culled from every corner of hip hop culture. From the bombed out alleys of Chicago’s underground rap battle scene, to the hallways of academia, Tomorrow Kings are from everywhere. They fit together, each member does a great job of continuing the narrative handed off to them by their cohorts on NRTM. While producer of majority of this project, Vyle, maintains a backdrop of intense synths and earth shaking bass lines, that lends to a TK joyride through a dystopian timeline that is mapped out through the intense imagery and ferocity that is found in their lyrics.
Tomorrow Kings exists in many different realms of music and artistry. They don’t try to fit safely into a standard box and their music is a testament to the culture moving forward as a whole. The track, Imagine Tomorrow, has Wizard Jenkins pronouncing, “It ain’t ‘94 nigga, we can’t go back.” A truth that is indicative of what we are dealing with in current social trends. Nowadays the 90’s are what’s considered “dope”, but in order to honestly honor what music, entertain, fashion, etc. was made during that time, we can’t simply rebirth what was already hatched, we have to take from it and move forward creating our own. That’s what Tomorrow Kings seem to set out to do with NRTM.
On tracks like, Another WuTang Comparison and Michael Jordan ft. Vyle, we get to hear the troupes angst and defiance towards present day. With the Wu joint we get to hear their thoughts towards the constant comparisons to the Killer Bee Generals. With Michael Jordan the production gets very dirty and it feels like Gil ScottHeron getting in a fight with an El P blunted beat. Lamon Manuel and Skech185 absolutely own Michael Jordan. Even producer Vyle gets on the mic and holds his own. The vocal samples used on both Michael Jordan and Another WuTang Comparison speak so much to the tempo of these respective cuts. Each one uses
the sample to add to the emotion and funk of the music.
TK often uses the benefits of the collective to get their point across to the listener. It’s a sound of comradery you hear laced throughout this record. The hooks are often harmonized, however at times done crudely. It’s the crudeness to what the group delivers that may scare off the more casual listener. To those that appreciate a group of agitators this record is for you, for those that like it smooth and easy, while TK brings that to the table in the form of member I.B. Focuz and Collasoul Structure aka Big Rob The Weirdo, it’s a cold and hard sound that the group covets.
Henry Hyde lands in the middle of this album, and it is the only track on this album that I can’t get behind. The hook, while insightful, has a tempo that is just too droney for me and takes away from the track as a whole. Even the vocals from Wizard Jenkins, Collasoul Structure, and Skech185, didn’t feel like they were delivered in the way that TK is capable of. The hushed way the cut is approached by the artists makes it hard for the listener to feel the emotion that is generally found littered throughout the entirety of this album.
Tomorrow Kings, although eclectic as individuals, can suffer from recreating a sound
they are comfortable with just like any other artist, group, or band. However on this record it
feels like they almost purposefully throw curveballs in the aesthetic of the album. On the single, Dropkicks From Saturn, we get a chance to hear the group sound off over a DJ Seanile
produced track that takes from the cloud rap sound made famous by Clams Casino and A$AP Rocky. It’s a pleasant change to the rough and tumble production that is found throughout NRTM without taking from the groups intensity.
On Robert Davis and The Robots, we get TK members Gilead7, Wizard Jenkins, and Collasoul taking turns waxing poetic on the future while reflecting on the past…and Wizard Jenkins seems to be in an alternate universe. All of this is done by a constantly fading and rematerializing futuristic, Witch Hunt Disco, Trap beat. Thank you Vyle.
Shipwrecked Sirens is a personal favorite. The beat rolls in like a great fog engulfing the senses. You can picture these lunatics dehydrated and lost at sea…and then the sound of those mythical sirens dance into vision and TK finally finds that dystopian Island full of short cropped, bleached blond hipster babes. The production is very cinematic. The picture is painted by Vyle with the smokey sound of a Siren’s voice moving through that fog. The synths fire off like pistons keeping these artists afloat as they trudge along reflecting on the women that they fall for.
With the closing track to the record, Automatic Door Leaving ft. Defcee, we feel a culmination. The story has been told and TK is still here. “I build up like a rechargeable battery, the posterity that survived the neo sonic calamity,” raps Gilead7. You get the sense that this album was a big weight on their shoulders and this closing number is the group breathing a collective breath of fresh air and looking on hopeful to the future. The piano that leads this declaration speaks volumes to the love these artists still have for their craft in spite of being through it all. They’re revolutionaries, instigators, inspiration to millennials, and the slayers of broads named ‘Emily’. They are Tomorrow Kings…and they have a message for you. And that message is in the form of Nigger Rigged Time Machine.
Thank you Tomorrow Kings. Thank you world. Thank you Chicago. History will never be the same and I await eagerly for the future. #WitchHuntDisco