I’ve been spending most of my day, here at my desk, contemplating a suitable comparison to NYC’s long-lamented (by me anyways) and little heard hip-hop duo New Kingdom. That’s because calling them hip-hop would be a disservice, though this posthumous remembrance is filed in the Bo Jackson Jukebox, digging into their crate of samples wouldn’t dreg up the usual suspects. Influenced equally by hardcore and Curtis Mayfield, bong rips and Jimi Hendrix, they were truly the first self-proclaimed psychedelic rap group – P.M. Dawn notwithstanding. If you can find anything that predates 1992’s Heavy Load, I dare you to put it up for challenge against the beats and patterns laid out by Nosaj and Sebastian.
Not getting down with their catalog in a while, I just recently found their stunning sophomore album, Paradise Don’t Come Cheap (which is long out of print), and it’s certainly the high-point of an extremely tumultuous career. Their subsequent drop from Gee Street (who was bought-out by V2) might stem from audiences who just couldn’t get a head around the sound. This is the morphine drip of the rap world, crispy lysergic trails chopped and screwed -- the original crunks, the original afrostrologists -- every last inch of this record is covered in smoke and resin. Tracks like “Unicorns Were Horses” and the monster creeper “Co-Pilot” orbit in serious slow-motion, almost in a warped reverse, blaring horns samples circled by sirens and wah-wah-ed guitar riffs (some live even). And while we’re using drug references, the latter is the closest aural equivalent to the sensation produced by those festival-sized nitrous balloons. Sure this is a cauldron cooked up and geeked out upon in hazy dorm-rooms, nothing here is too intelligent, but it’s also an unadulterated joyride, a freedom cruise. Really, there’s nothing stranger than “Vahalla Soothsayer” a song that manages to travel from Appalachia to the heart of the sun, growled in distorted howls while scrap metal obstructs any hope of a clear view.
Then they disappeared. Rumors circulate about an album of new material, but nothing has been produced. At least find time for a re-ish?