Second Hand King Reigns In Latest Album

Jazz and hip hop have been interwoven since the 80s, but their mixture has become more prominent in the past couple years. Whether it’s national (Kendrick Lamar’s jazz odyssey To Pimp a Butterfly, Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead, Med, Blue & Madlib’s Bad Neighbor) or local (The Phantastics, iLLPHONics, or Second Hand King), the marriage between the two genres makes for some of the most compelling, weirdest songs that are being made today. Tomorrow at The Riot Room, Second Hand King will celebrate the release of his latest jazz themed album, Almost Blue, with special guests: Rachel Mallin & The Wild Type, Barrel Maker and DWill, Craig Smith, and Loop Rat.

Listening to Loop Rat, it’s easy to hear Roots’ influence on their jazz understitched smooth rap. From this influence, the St. Louis pack moves into their own. Flitting between the political and the personal, Loop Rat’s ability to ride associative drifts through live jazz is impressive. The band thrives on interconnection. Whether it’s musical or lyrical, Loop Rat resists the post-modern urge to see things as a heap of broken images opting instead to see reality as a rope of interconnected strings.

Rachel Mallin & The Wild type is constantly changing. The difference between their EP (released just a year ago) and their latest single, “Drop Out,” is staggering. The band never seems to be complacent with their music, which is, in my opinion, a great place to be as an artist. “Drop Out” feels more fleshed out, more realized than their previous material, which is not an indictment of their older stuff so much as indication of their ability to push themselves.

Barrel Maker and DWill are two artists that I can listen on repeat seemingly ad inifitum. The duo mixes grimy, amorphous beats with incisive lyrics. I started this post talking about the junction of jazz and hip hop and how it creates some great and weird music. That said, Barrel Maker and DWill’s collaborations resist feathery jazz for heavy hitting instrumentals–an aesthetic choice that greatly flatters Barrel Makers odd mix of second guesses and unfettered confidence.

In a similar vein, Craig Smith flows over distorted synths and 808s. The rapper takes the KC style that Tech N9ne started and adds a touch of finesse to it. While Smith has subtly and finesse, his songs are anything but soft. The rapper’s smoky bass notes add to his songs a sense of urgency that makes the core to great hip hop. Combining this with an ever increasing tension in his songs, Craig Smith is an artist about to blow up.

Second Hand King’s Almost Blue does what hip hop should do–take the past and reshape it to the present. Riffing on jazz standards and produced beats, Second Hand King explores the more somber parts of life. Whether he’s rapping about dealing with troubles or ignoring them, there’s a since of sincerity to his voice that is familiar, yes, but also haunting. Listening to Almost Blue is like being privy to someone’s inner monologue. There’s the desire not to listen, that this is too personal existing simultaneously with the intrigue that great art elicits.

The show is tomorrow at The Riot Room. It starts at 8pm and 21+, so bring your ID if you want to catch one of the most stacked line ups of recent memory.

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