NAH is a Philly-based alternative hip-hop project which seems pretty intent on weirding you out. Pretty much everything I can find on their bandcamp (nahstuff dot bandcamp dot com) is free to download, so naturally I went through and grabbed a bunch of it… and this is stuff that makes you want to scratch your head in confusion and stare at your computer screen, but then also stuff that gets you unintentionally grooving to its beats when you stop trying to comprehend it so damn hard. Some of the tags on bandcamp are “asshole, punk, hip-hop, noise” if that helps you.
WOE is the most recent release by NAH, fairly short compared to much of NAH’s discography and containing quite a few tracks with verses by GIVV, who I assume is either the same person behind NAH doing raps or one of NAH’s close buddy-pal-friends. In any case, this release is some of the hottest hip-hop I’ve heard since the Black Milk dropped (and it dropped before the Black Milk, which means I’m just late on all this shit as usual). The album begins with screeching violins that suddenly fade away as GIVV sneering into the mic (“hey thirsty fucker, do you wanna buy a plain ass road from me? you could paint some lines on it”) about how people fail to “transcend” and only “over-extend the shit they recommend.” The beat is harsh, jarring, but also contagious and on-point; the beat continues into “Rather Die,” a separate track which has a similar flow but is a somewhat more uplifting topic (“never cry, rather die, never say I, never”). The transition into the next track, “knelt over body,” is an eerie spoken-word fragment (“there’s something… wrong”), and that little statement could sum up a lot of listener responses to NAH. Because there’s something cryptically ‘wrong’ about this whole aesthetic, sort of like Odd Future shock value without all the insecurity/immaturity and more of Shabazz Palaces-esque flourish and production value. When there isn’t a featured rapper saying weird shit over the beats, it’s ambient but driving – Clams Casino on stimulants and maybe PCP instead of just pot. My favorite bits of the release are when the harshness suddenly melts away into smooth, almost typical hip-hop chord progressions played with keys; it’s a welcome release from the tension that builds throughout the entire ~20 minutes. Some moments on “born” and “punctured by” remind me of the least ambient moments in Arca’s newest album, or some of his earlier hectic/psychedelic mixtapes. After several instrumental tracks, GIVV returns for the one-minute title track, sneering more antagonistically than ever (“he ain’t got a name, he ain’t get it but he’ll bash your bloody brain”).
All in all, WOE doesn’t drop to your lowly expectations of hip-hop and noise music – it dumps a bucket of noise over your head and throws your expectations right back in your face. It’s fucking great. You can find more releases (TONS OF FREE SHIT, PIRATE SCUM) on their bandcamp. Watch a vid from this release below.