(Words by Bobby Brusberg)
As February rolls around and my New Years Resolution to stop getting excited over Beyoncé shatters, I think how glad I am it’s not 2016 anymore. Normally when someone or something famous dies I cry, but when 2016 expired I felt nothing but naïve hope knowing that 2017 had to be better. Of course, years are just numbers and the world has always been kind of cruel, so 2017 has no reason to be better. But I think many Americans have collectively agreed that we are in a good spot for mass change. Making change is hard though, so sit back and relax with your favorite music before you get ready to put in work.
You’ll want to be in a good mood before you fight evil. A musical artist whom I enjoy almost too much goes by the name of Darko the Super, and you probably haven’t heard of him, so I’m gonna give you the goods on his latest album “Apocalyptic Bastard.” Full disclosure, Darko and I are Facebook friends, the most sinister conflict of interest known to humankind, so everything I say can and should be scanned for bias by you and your mom. I was almost an English minor, so I’ve been trained to read too deep into every form of art even when I’d rather not. I’ve naturally theorized what “Apocalyptic Bastard” means to me. You’ll disagree with me, I know damn well what I’m about to say wasn’t what the artist had in mind with his tracks but that’s art, baby. If you write a book about doorknobs people will talk about your unconscious desire to cuddle with mom. The purpose of art is to make people feel and think stuff, but that stuff is out of the artist’s control. To me on “Apocalyptic Bastard,” Darko vindicates his pessimistic outlook on life by highlighting the worst year in recent memory, successfully relating to his audience through a unified dislike of 2016.
I haven’t written a whack thesis statement in months. I feel whole again. Anyway, Darko opens with “Take My CD,” which sounds like the artist’s attempt to figure out why “no one” will listen to his stuff. The song explains Darko’s personal frustrations with his art. Darko understands that most people who work for a living for little pay are probably not willing to spend money on his music, and even if Darko gives his music out for free, people reject it because they have only so much time to themselves and don’t want to spend that time listening to his music. I imagine every creator encounters something like this. For example, when I write something that I think is decent and it doesn’t get the level of attention I expect it to, I start to wonder if maybe I just have no talent and will be miserable forever, for my craft will never be recognized by people besides Ma and Pa. Perhaps my writing doesn’t deserve recognition and if I continue to pursue my dreams I’ll live my life in constant self-doubt until I give up or die. “Take My CD” is a solid introduction to the album and Darko’s situation. Consider it a sort of theme.
Although the first track serves as a look into Darko’s individual struggle with gaining listeners, the album quickly and steadily branches out into activities that harsh everyone’s mellow. “Working for the Weak End” expands on the sentiments in the first track regarding people who work a full-time day job. Many folks spend much of their time working for someone else, making money so we can pay bills until we die. As someone who works 8 hours a day, I can say it truly feels hopeless more often than not. Darko the Super’s negative attitude may be off-putting to some people, but those same people might be more comfortable if they could relate to Darko’s rage. Enter “Donald Trump Sucks Cocks in Hell,” a song anyone can get down with. I think we’ve established that Donald Trump doesn’t deserve our respect, and Darko has a good time getting lyrically rude against the man with the best words. Donald Trump brought a lot of people (the whole damn planet) together through a common hatred of himself during his campaign last year, so this song may be Darko’s way of saying “Yeah I’m weird and my music is taboo, but you guys hate Donnie too, right?” Criticizing Donald Trump, who may be the worst part of 2016 and recorded history, is a way for Darko to stay true to his usual style of focusing on negative emotions, but also broaden his fanbase to more people without selling out. I’d wager there’s a large number of artists popping out trap beats every hour, searching for the golden hook that’s catchy enough for YouTube, all in an attempt to acquire cheese. But is money worth lying to yourself and being unhappy?
2016 was also riddled with a lot of lies. More lies than usual. Fake news, even. Everyone knows fake news is a sin, so Darko restores journalistic integrity in the song “The Day I Beat Yao Ming,” which tells of the day Darko defeated one of the only basketball players I know of 35-27 on the court. It’s a tale filled with imagery and it’s very funny to imagine a cocky Yao Ming. I always heard he was humble. But Darko wouldn’t lie. It’s 2017 now, lies aren’t allowed. A less silly and more truthful song on the album is “Can’t Wait to Die.” Darko is very open about his suicidal tendencies and his fantasizing of his own death. It might be uncomfortable to confront suicidal death, but this is another individual struggle Darko faces. This suicidal crisis is followed by “Quick Sand,” which gives a tense realization that ending one’s life is so simple if one should wish to do it. I find it fitting that this song and “God Fuck America” appear near the end of the album. Just as the presidential election results instilled dread into many Americans near the end of the year, Darko saved these relevant songs for the end of the album. Not to make this all about me, but I think this point reinforces my concept that this album is heavily influenced by the belief that 2016 was some serious bologna.
My conspiracy theories aren’t important, though. This album is seriously wonderful. It’s as if every sound has a purpose beyond aural pleasure. The many samples vary from “Mad World” to the theme song from “Malcolm in the Middle.” A good number of the ‘80s samples are nostalgic and identifiable, but Darko applies tweaks to the beats that is inexplicably beneficial to the original sound. I’m probably getting ahead of myself, but I think Darko makes some songs sound better. It’s like he borrows classics and modifies them to hold a deeper meaning, but in a way that is much more enjoyable and valuable than some bullshit audio project I made my Junior year of college.
If you don’t like my taste, then spit me out. The subject matter of his songs is usually simple and sometimes uncomfortable, but Darko’s delivery and voice transform everything he says into a trip to the circus. It reminds me of Del, The Funky Homosapien if it helps to draw a comparison. He’s a self-aware goofball who can seriously have you quoting him within minutes. I’m either laughing or nodding my head when I listen to this album. There are some real funny lines juxtaposed among tracks clearly not intended to be funny. He’s got a way with words. Here some of good ones from “Apocalyptic Bastard”: “It’s cheaper to die, that’s why I stay nervous; cuz my health insurance is Google searches.” Another favorite, when referring to Donald Trump, “I will crush you; like your fans do PBR cans, Mr. little hands, I hate your orange spray tan; my gay friend’s husband looks better than your wife.” Darko’s discography is full of lines like this. Darko’s brilliant use of the English language is a tool he uses to craft a definitive style for himself while simultaneously using samples and references from other well-known artists. IT certainly is taboo, but
No one, not even good ol’ overtly-chipper Bobby is immune to bouts of pessimism, but Darko thrives in it. By channeling his frustrations and possible depression into creative energy, he refuses to give up on his art, and he becomes a prolific music-maker. I lost count of how many albums he put out in 2016 but it’s in the double digits. His productivity is inspiring and is worth emulating. Despite the melancholic message of some of his lyrics, Darko the Super continues to produce his jams as a coping mechanism for his chronic suicidal thoughts. At least I think that’s why. With “Apocalyptic Bastard” he relates with listeners and lets his audience know that there’s nothing wrong with feeling hopeless, especially in light of recent events and the potential misery of daily life, whatever situation you have to deal with. Take that hopelessness and change it into something worthwhile, but don’t feel the need to sugarcoat it for others to listen to you. You might not consider this album to be music, but like it or not, this is art. I love Darko the Super for many reasons, but I can’t express enough how much I love that he makes the stuff he wants to. Not adhering to a certain style just because it’s popular. So much more can be analyzed regarding Darko’s lyricism and musicality but I highly suggest you listen to this album and derive your own meaning. Or just enjoy the sounds and words of Darko the Super. Maybe even be greedy and do both of those things.
“Apocalyptic Bastard” will appear under your pillow in the dead of night once it releases on February 24.