Drapetomania has all the gusto and urgency of a debut. Brimming with lyrics of fury courtesy of emcees R-Tist and C.O.M.P.L.E.T., the stabbing attacks of dynamic DJ duo FX and Jeff C, and a lush soundworld layered with rich textures and trunk-rattling beats. Drapetomania is a feast for the ears -- a Loveless for heads steeped in Buhloone Mind State (and vice versa).
R-Tist has long been a fantastic producer -- mixing MPC mastery with live instrumentation. Joining forces with the production crew at Birmingham-based label Communicating Vessels – namely producer Jeffrey Cain (Remy Zero, Dead Snares, The Great Book Of John), engineer Kyle Ginther, and mastering guru Paul Logus – has taken his beats to dizzying new heights. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Drapetomania wasn’t the product of the Dirty South rather than the blunted grit of J Dilla’s Detroit or the otherworldly productions of Lex Records. But Drapetomania is no homage – it’s a unique blend of heart, laughter, and guts.
Drapetomania is also a feast for eyes thanks to the astounding artwork of enigmatic art collective EHQuestionmark – the design collective behind much of Lex’s output, including records by Shape of Broad Minds, Neon Neon, and DOOM.
In fact, it was EHQuestionmark who suggested the album title: Drapetomania is a bit of 19th century pseudoscience – the "disorder" causing a slave's urge to flee. The idea of drapetomania inspired the eerily psychedelic minstrels that adorn the album’s artwork – which looks especially striking as an LP. With that last conceptual detail in place, Drapetomania gains extra heft as a work of art… Though none of that matters without the strong material that lives within the grooves.
Drapetomania often contemplates bondage – artistic, romantic, etc. – but, ultimately, it’s a soundtrack to Freedom… And whatever comes next.