"An artist afraid to overreach himself is as useless as a general who is afraid to be wrong." Over a half-century later, the axiom remains true for hyper-kinetic hip-hop innovators, North Carolina's L'Orange and Solemn Brigham – the hard-boiled duo behind the fun house fever dream, Marlowe. Released on Mello Music Group, the group's eponymous album is a triumph of ambition, a rap bricolage blending prohibition and civil rights-era samples with Asian psychedelic rock flourishes.
Brigham controls the microphone like a general who can't help but be right. His flow is a blitzkrieg. It's an Olympian sprint, gliding over snares and kick-drums like hurdles. He's a showman seeking revolution – resolute in his desire to strike equilibrium between awareness and entertainment. With dazzling cinematic mise en scene, L'Orange crafts a world that sounds like an old-time medicine show dropped into '90s Brooklyn, with Solemn summoning the holy spirit of Big L. Cymbals crash, drums pound, fuzzy guitars ride out, a bronze rain of horns cascade.
This is gorgeous celestial dust, high-powered fuel with every syllable meticulously ordained. Marlowe cracked the case, but how they did it can only become clear under deeper investigation.