Written by Barlovv
Strictly Hip Hop – Who’s Next?
> Massachusetts, US
> Released July 28, 2022
Fill the prisons
Feed the system
Clock in, check out
Apathy in the trough
What a strange and wonderful beast Who’s Next? is. Between the band’s name and even the initial moments of this album, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this had been mislabeled as grindcore. Like downloading a song on Limewire (not that any of us did that, of course) that turned out to be the Weird Al cover, or just Darude‘s Sandstorm. There is a moment of “Wait, am I listening to the right thing?”; a thought chased away almost as soon as it forms by the absolutely crushing vocals and grinding instruments that absolutely blast into the opening track after the first minute, and it becomes abundantly clear what you’re in for.
While the album is a brutal grinding beast for its entire 25 minutes, there is also a genuine love of hip hop on display as well. Even the lyrics could be swapped over to hip hop without much editing and it makes the name feel like less of a goofy joke, and more of a genuine love for both genres. There are some excellent hip hop beats and samples scattered throughout as well, and it really does create something very different than I’m used to hearing in this genre.
Metal and its many sub-genres often feel so siloed, with lashing out and criticism flying out at any music that doesn’t fall within its purview; in particular pop and hip hop are somehow seen as less-than. So it’s nice to see what does feel like a genuine openness on display. Of course, I could be absolutely misreading the whole thing and actually it’s a scathing criticism of hip-hop or something, but lets go with my reading for now.
As for the album as a whole, yeah it fucking rips and if you’re a grindcore fan and this one has passed you by then you’re going to want to correct that oversight. The instrumentals are hard and the vocals are furious and guttural. It’s a fun album to listen to, which I imagine feels incongruous with the previous sentence, but it just is. Anyone who listens to enough grindy music like this knows that it becomes very clear when the band is having fun and it makes the album fun to listen to. That’s absolutely the case here.
Fun aside, there are some pretty serious topics being discussed on the album. Prison, capitalism, mental health, things that are constantly present in our society and only seem to be getting worse. There is an exactly appropriate amount of anger here, and it’s directed in some places that it needs to be directed in.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Strictly Hip Hop’s Who’s Next? is an absolute gnarly fucking beast and you should just go ahead and listen to it right now.