Label: Backwoodz Studioz
Released: March 26

At times, the music industry feels like it’s delivering music on a conveyor belt that’s spinning at warp speed. So much music is celebrated one Friday and seemingly forgotten by the next, and sometimes artists play into that with below-effort projects. So it’s refreshing to hear albums that defy that dynamic, like Armand Hammer’s Alchemist-produced Haram. ALC gives the Armand Hammer pairing of Elucid and billy woods a surreal, eccentric soundscape, and they bounce off each other well stylistically. Throughout Haram, the duo co-pilot on a warp-speed journey through themes of pro-Blackness, existentialism, and gems like woods’ “I can’t afford not to believe in things unseen / But belief always been dangerous to me” on “Scaffolds.” The pair rap with a strong worldview and an off-kilter, spoken-word style that feels unbothered by palatability, which could be off-putting to a listener looking to be appealed to. Some rap is best to vibe to, but projects like Haram deserve your continued attention. It defies the idea of rap as ephemeral #content, and densely rewards extra listens which inevitably unravel new insights. So-called experimental boombap is characterized as “left field,” but Haram is an offering of two MCs who have left the plane entirely. —Andre Gee