Music

Cyne: Pretty Dark Things

Afro-beat rhythms, backpacker rhymes, biting criticisms and head-nodding beats fill Cyne's latest that takes multiple listens to fully digest.


Cyne

Pretty Dark Things

Label: Hometapes
US Release Date: 2008-10-07
UK Release Date: Available as import
Website
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

When Cyne first caught attention with the fantastic 2005 album Evolution Fight, they seemed unable to leap the hurdle of being lumped in with the rest, for an underground hip-hop group, that's a mighty hurdle to get over. So many acts either get passed over or slept on even though they might release a record worthy of both acclaim and sales, but by being in the underground, a group like Cyne might go unnoticed by hip-hop heads unless they scour the Internet or get a tip from a friend. Should that listener stumble upon a Cyne track, though, chances are he or she will be pleasantly surprised, and that belief only grows stronger with the recent release of Pretty Dark Things, an album that further proves being pissed off can lead to innovative and startlingly catchy music.

After dropping hints of their frustration over the years, both with society and hip-hop, Cyne have truly stepped up their collective-anger game. The Floridian foursome of producers and emcees never minced words with how they all feel about "hip-pop". Like many underground emcees, the rappers of Cyne, Akin and Cise Star always eagerly seek out chances to diss their mainstream peers. At first, it was typical of what you would expect: a "sell out" here, a "radio sucks" there. Now, they have moved on to more dynamic and biting ways of expressing their outrage. How does comparing the Ying-Yang Twins to cotton-pickin' slaves grab ya? Although the emcees do fall back on calling out MTV and the like, the aforementioned analogy clearly proves more poignant and compelling.

On the societal side of things, Cise Star and Akin take on topics like race with the same kind of attitude. For example, they thank Michael "Kramer" Richards for exposing the fact that yes, racism does still exist on the absolutely gripping and fantastic "Never Forget Pluto". Much of those sentiments also carry over onto "Pianos on Fire" (on which the previously mentioned Ying-Yang Twins diss can be heard). Similarly, Akin and Cise Star drop the gloves on the head-nodder "Radiant Cool Boy", which addresses white hipsters using the n-word, and on the prog-hop laden "Fuzzy Logic", a track that could also put you in a neck brace. When the emcees fail to rise above clichés, however, the songs suffer in kind, like on "Scattered", "Money Parade", and "The Dance". To be fair, those three won't rate as terrible, but each lacks a sufficient quality to make them more than just average. But even with some top-notch production from Speck and Enoch, the beatmakers of the bunch, those tracks still suffer from lackluster rhymes.

Not surprisingly, these four hip-hop heads truly excel when they take on sounds outside of their respective comfort zones. Even a stereotypical backpacker anthem like "Just Say No", which calls out Nelly, accelerates courtesy of production heavily influenced by African rhythms, and although these rhythms can be heard throughout many of the joints, they stand tall when little gets in their way. Lead single "The Runaway" features a great muffled-trumpet sound and jazzy drums that mold the perfect background for the emcees to spit over. Though a bit hectic, "Excite Me" carries the same tone. The same goes for the quick and snappy "Calor", a cut that has an Afro-beat vibe bouncing throughout. But the producers are equally as capable of killing more straightforward beats, such as on "Escape", which bangs, and on "Pretty Black Future", a track that would sound at home on an album from the Roots; yes, the drums are that good.

What Pretty Dark Things boils down to be: An album that must be digested multiple times. Don’t expect to pop this into your CD player and instantly fall in love. Unfortunately, it doesn't gratify upon first listen. You will have to bump this in your car, your headphones, your home stereo, wherever, to truly get what is going on here. Even though it’s a damn fine record after you let it settle, Pretty Dark Things will no doubt be lost on listeners looking for a quick hip-hop fix. But for all you underground heads looking for something new and different, on the production end at least, this album awaits you.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image