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The 19-year-old Pennsylvania-based human hip-hop experiment Evan Souza AKA DarkoTheSuper invites you on follow him on a bold and warped quest through aural space with Thank You Jim Cunningham. ‘Challenge accepted,’ says our reviewer (The Auracle).
There’s something about this dude DarkoTheSuper that is so strange and flipped out, yet at the same time, it’s this very quality that keeps me coming back to the homie’s music. Born one year shy of a score ago, The Super is lyrically gifted and completely fearless on the mic, doing whatever – and I really mean whatever – comes to mind. Thus, there was really no way to prepare for Thank You Jim Cunningham outside from securing the album, loading it up in VLC, then pressing play. The tape starts off with the rugged track Based Freestyle. Based is unapologetically grimy and the flow is deliberately psychedelic and warbled. After a dark introduction, the groove opts for the uplifting Dilla Dawg Is The Illest, a tribute track to the late legend J Dilla. It’s here that my overwhelming curiosity about Darko’s formulaic cadence intensifies as I start to notice that he opts to do all of the weird sound effects with his voice rather than rely solely on digital manipulation. Some people couldn’t get away with this approach at all but DarkoTheSuper does. Rhythmically, it’s worth noting how he dances on tracks with a style very reminiscent of mewithoutYou frontman Aaron Weiss‘. Darko is totally free-ranging and the spoken word influence on his raps is infused and executed with magnificent equanimity.
The track following all that up is the first showcase of Darko’s really interesting emotive tracks. Gratitude is undeniably poetic, sincerity dripping off of every word slowly like running honey. The beat is exceptional as well, slamming and beautiful. Darko’s flow here is hard and daring while his lyricism is relentless and commands incredible attention. The aural beauty continues with the butter-because-I-love-it groovefest entitled Breath for Breath, remixed by BLKrKRT. The flow from The Super is strange and smooth; bucking the trend of unrelenting poetic prose from the last track. Breath for Breath is one part gritty street imagery of a violent confrontation, one part pensive social commentary on poverty stricken and desolate areas in which people struggle day to day, which makes the song a rather intriguing listen overall. I then arrived at the album’s best track: I Don’t Know Anything. I haven’t got a Scooby Doo where the producer Silly Mane got the inspiration to make something heavier than heaven and hell combined, but it’s most welcome. Combine the track’s warmth with Darko’s laidback and slightly slurred pentameter, I Don’t Know Anything is thoughtful and gorgeous. The relaxing vibes continue on via Super Soul – an languid and inviting track – before taking a vicious turn in the chilling and demented banger Evan’s Got A Gun. Lyrically, Darko’s verbiage feels like it came right out of a sick graphic novel, complete with all the gory details. After a quick stop off on the exotic electro-jazz clash experiment The Great Fall, The Super gets his 90s cypher on with the hypefest known as Darko Rules. Complete with a neckbreaking loop, I get the impression Darko is channelling his inner MF DOOM. As ever, the lyricism is on point and the flow is raw and adventurous.
Even more sensational lyricism is on display via Knock Em Out The Box. I couldn’t help but love how the flow is rebellious and makes its own rules on the track. Up next is the wonderfully downtempo and provocative Abstract where the narrative comes equipped with a rather striking twist. Arcade Dreams is the last musical track on Thank You Jim Cunningham and it’s an lengthy epic that takes a simple and clever flip on the classic Fatlip hook that hip-hop heads know and love. The beat sounds almost like 16-32 bit computer game music and is particularly engaging. As for the flow, Darko does more than enough to send the album out in style. That’s the thing about music that comes weilding an experimental edge: for some, it comes off a bit too shrill for their tastes but listing to DarkoTheSuper generates that same feeling you get when you watch a film like Memento or even the film from which The Super’s name is derived from: it’s outlandish; its unique qualities are brutally obvious; and you can’t help but listen. As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. In closing, making the decision to listen to Thank You Jim Cunningham was akin to when Morpheus offered Neo the red or the blue pill. If you want to break away from conventions – and I mean, really break away from conventions – cop this album, free your mind, and witness imagination unchained.
Stream Thank You Jim Cunningham below: