Album Review – Modulok
You Look so Tragic
TAKABA

Leaner, cleaner and meaner, on his latest and greatest album yet, Modulok unleashes the fury and goes in hard on everyone from Drake, to King Of The Dot, to skinny jean hipster rappers who don’t and can’t represent the culture of the streets. With a pared down flow both smoother and more venomous than his earlier work with underground legends Red Ants, “You Look So Tragic” finds Modulok expanding the boundaries of Hip Hop songwriting into the existential mini-dramas of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Assisted by everyone from fellow Torontonian D-Sisive, to Bad Brains frontman HR, this thick slab of seamless storytelling is sure to garner fans from outside the crowd of traditional Hip Hop heads.

Lead single “Just Not Cool Anymore” merges foot-stomping Bosnian Sevdah music with Mo’s surly reflections on the difference between now and then, and the shared plight of aged punk rockers and burned out heads of all descriptions. The lead off video finds the dour faced rapper striding through NYC like a rhino, abusing fellow citizens with impunity, with a surprise ending of Monty Python proportions. A constant thread of jaded, world-weary nostalgia weaves together thirteen tracks that range from dusty jazz samples to scorching electro, while his wistful humour and skewed observations paint a picture of absurdity and pathos like a rap Dostoyevsky. Never one to get bogged down by life’s depravity, Modulok always keeps his head together and his eyes level, detached enough to merely observe…and fired up enough to let off warning shots in all directions, dropping acidic bars on every poser in the scene and none of them subliminal. “Golden Rule” bumps an old school reggae beat with a little help from HR, a subtle nod of the head to Modulok’s Guyanese roots. “Native Legends” features veteran 2Mex spitting his distinctively hypnotic flow over spaced out drums accompanied by Modulok’s paranoid alien mind scape. “Vicious Circle” takes the posse cut to a level not seen since ’96, with international flavour from the UK to Japan. “Old Records Hard Liquor” ends the album on a reflectively melancholy note.

Modulok has seriously honed his craft on this one, producing a cohesive album of diverse tracks worth playing over and over, and a worthy addition to the canon of classics that he obviously likes to drink to. Far enough from the gloss of club life and yet much closer to the dirty streets and bars that are the real heart and soul of Hip Hop, “You Look So Tragic” is a welcome antidote to everything Modulok stands opposed to, from Drake to KOTD, in its grit, honesty, and connection to Hip Hop roots.

By Dave “Corvid” McCallum

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