ALBUM REVIEW: TAPHARI – BLIND OBEDIENCE

Blind Obedience comes out of the underground queer club scene of Bushwick in Brooklyn and rapper Taphari, a Brooklyn native, “writes about the struggles of being a young loner from the hood seeking asylum in laughter, queer expression, hip hop, and the internet.”.

The arrangements are stripped back and perfectly suited to Taphari’s style; think of the way Prince used nothing more than guitar, drum machine and his voice on tracks like ‘Kiss’ and ‘Sign of the Times’. On Blind Obedience tracks are often just programmed drum patterns, keyboard washes, bleeps or chords and Taphari’s enthralling voice skipping over the top. The album has a stoner-bounce to it, laid back and heavy-lidded but Taphari’s languid syncopation speeds the pulse and is only occasionally punctuated by dreamy vocal phrases from guest vocalists like Pink Siifu (see video below).

The lyrical content is part origin story, part ‘fuck you’ to his detractors, and is described as “a journey of self-actualization, transcending suffering through the power of self-love and authentic musical expression”. The ideas of being an outsider – such as ‘Stay In Your Lane’ (“You know you’re no better than me”), acceptance – ‘Insecure’ – and ‘being true to yourself’, cause friction in the lyrics and sometimes they ignite on tracks like ‘Kathy Bates’ (“The water is rising and the sharks on the way”) or ‘Table 42’.

For every slick rap, or hip-hop, juggernaut with the power to clear samples, objectify women or buy the contents of a gold mine there are thankfully artists who take the grit from their lives and make pearls or wisdom. Homosexuality and rap have not always played nicely so it’s refreshing to see the rise of LGBTQ artists like Jay Boogie, Dai Burger, Mykki Blanco alongside paired down, leftfield acts like the industrial noise of Newark’s dälek (pronounced ‘Die-a-leck’) or Cannibal Ox.

The fact that Taphari has been put down, let down and run down is not great but to take all of that adversity and focus it into ten outstanding tracks is inspiring and married with the buoyancy of production, rhythmic bounce and catnip perfection of the hooks all add up to a great release.

Table 42 ft. Pink Siifu

Taphari socials: Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Review by Paul F Cook

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