“I’m afraid though we rap for food, were still hungry.” The Cunninlynguists (Deacon The Villian & Kno) maybe the next crew residing past the Mason Dixon (Kentucky to be exact) line too generate a healthy underground buzz. After their debut, Will Rap For Food, went largely ignored, the rapidly improving duo is back with a sophomore LP, Southernunderground, which similar to Little Brother deserves heads too at least give an honest “listen.”
To say that Cunnilynguists embrace their southern heritage would be an understatement. On the title cut to their sophomore LP, its poetic justice that Deacon and Kno trade verses over a well-placed Andre 3000 of Outkast vocal sample—-”my oral illustration be like clitoral stimulation.” After all, while Andre has become somewhat of an ambassador (both with his lyrical and stylish flair) for the gumbo of styles that reside in the dirty south, Deacon and Kno mesh a variety of those influences into one ear-opening package.
On “Southernunderground” the duo offers “Mumbling some thugging shit is not a sin to me/but doesn’t hip-hop need a little positivity/it’s all guns and slinging cane/we need some upliftment in the streets/somebody call David Blaine.” Yet, David Blaine metaphors aside, Cunnilynguists are anything but smoke and mirrors. Rather, along with Kno finding a common ground between the boom bap of hip-hop’s golden age and the sped up, manipulated voice samples of Just Blaze and Kanye West, the duo’s love sick topic matter is just as universal. With “Love Ain’t” feat. Tonedeff and the dark “Rain” hip-hop’s perpetual tough guy shtick is flipped as the duo details the grief and self-doubt that accompanies break-up’s, which Kno eloquently captures on “Rain”—-”its crazy how you can have your life arranged/and the day you get engaged you notice she’s acting strange/like everything’s changed/and suddenly its on tape and you crumble/cause you notice on the tape she doesn’t kiss you she just fucks you/that’s when your heart starts to feel the pain/so much that you can feel it in your veins/and you can’t forget her name/that’s when you literally go insane/and you feel like its so sad you make it rain.” Though Cunnilynguists unleash a steady Thorazine drip of heartache between the papers lines, they do delve into other topics, as Deacon somberly tackles our existence on “Sunrise/Sunset” which lifts the chorus from Fiddler On The Roof and the RJD2 produced Indy favorite “Seasons” w/ Masta Ace, where with a hint of sarcasm hip-hop’s cyclic nature is dissected “jolly fat white men get paid/when rap hits the shelves/and artists themselves get treated like elves/matter of fact/Santa’s got ya so greedy when a rapper sells you even need clearance to sample Jingle Bells/what the hell.”
While Cunnilynguists deftly maneuver from forlorn love odes too addressing serious race issues (“Dying Nation”) they do lose focus with the over-ambitious “Falling Down”, where the aggressive ?uestlovesque beat changes are innovative, but lack execution, the almost skeletal arrangement of “Doin Alright” begs for more instrumentation and a slew of redundant skits are unnecessary for a group that does not need to rely on gimmicks. In fact, the downright zany, “Old School” becomes a welcomed change of pace due to its carousel of automated strings and witty punchlines.
Though the Cunnilynguists topic matter can be heavy, they don’t take themselves too seriously and a few strategically placed instrumental nods from Kno, not only add pace, but will undoubtedly result in Kno fielding more calls for his services, evidenced by the amazing “War” where western spaghetti guitar riffs, snares that are crisper then Col. Sanders, trill Organ blasts and an always thorough Prodigy of Mobb Deep vocal sample are meticulously sculpted into a four minute opus that you can get lost in for hours—Kno, when can we get an instrumental LP?
While Deacon and Kno have a nice chemistry, the beauty of Southernunderground is firmly entrenched in the consistency of their production and the substance that resounds out of your speakers.
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