Within the final yr or so, BandGang Lonnie Bands’ music has taken on a extra insular and fatalistic bent. Spurred by the dying of two shut associates and fellow members of the Detroit crew BandGang, his 2021 single “Heartburn” and mixtape Arduous 2 Kill launched his revamped sound: ominous Michigan-style beats, more and more jittery flows, and hardened however susceptible lyrics. Impressed by the way in which 2pac aired out his darkest emotions on the paranoid 1996 album All Eyez on Me, Lonnie’s latest venture, Scorpion Eyes, lets all his bleakest ideas pour out. It’s harrowing and thorny but stuffed with skillful rapping, clear-eyed storytelling, and delicate however impassioned vocal tics.
There’s an uneasy edge to his voice, shaky and high-strung irrespective of if he’s in a pessimistic temper or if he’s making an attempt to hide his fears by puffing out his chest. Quite a lot of his traces finish with exasperated exhales or are trailed by incoherent murmurs, as if he’s gathering his ideas in actual time. The title monitor units the album’s tone: Loss of life isn’t looming within the background, it’s the subject. Not like Pac, who at occasions appeared accepting of it, Lonnie is preventing to care. “Why you taking life as a right?” he asks an unknown rival, nevertheless it works simply as effectively pointed inward. Later, his voice tenses up as he raps, “I believe I would like some remedy, I’m sparring with melancholy/I been sippin’ heavy lean, battling with habit,” over a skittish instrumental that accentuates the nervous temper. They really feel like phrases he’s saying for the primary time.
All through the album he isolates and dissects his personal emotions in ways in which really feel virtually invasive to listen to. On “Assist Me,” his croaky vocal cadence stretches till it strains as he tries to swat away suicidal ideas fueled by a capsule habit and the nervousness that his youngsters are destined to inherit his struggles. He’s lonely on “Rolling Stone Chilly,” conscious he’s his personal worst enemy however too goosed-up on pleasure to do something about it. “Nonetheless a Mama Boy” tells a narrative of remorse. He feels as if he wasted his mother’s exhausting work and vents by evaluating himself to his dad: “Fascinated by how pops did my mama make me wanna kill him/She ain’t even be bitter, she begged me to fuck with him/I hate I even obtained a pair traits like that fuck nigga.” The swap between indignant and wistful is seamless.
Not all his makes an attempt at self-criticism are sympathetic, although. On “MarkTwain,” he raps about smacking a lady in entrance of his daughter, and simply because it’s stated in a remorseful tone doesn’t imply he will get a pat on the again. Like loads of tortured, self-destructive males in artwork, he tries to justify treating the ladies in his life terribly by enjoying it just like the guilt that haunts him is simply as dangerous.
In additional methods than one, Scorpion Eyes is a troublesome pay attention. With so many rappers killed by violence and habit prior to now few years, it’s chilling to listen to Lonnie rap so overtly about his personal fears. However what makes Scorpion Eyes so exhausting to show away from is the nuances of the music, how ache comes via in so some ways past the lyrics. With “Strathmolism” it’s the worn-out singing that wouldn’t be misplaced on a No Restrict mixtape. On “Cease Wrapping My Life,” it’s the frequent pauses he takes between traces that make each bar really feel soul-wrenching. “No Pillow Talkin” conveys the identical jumpy vitality because the songs on Drakeo the Ruler’s Chilly Satan: just like the partitions are closing in. None of it makes the discomfort go away, however music this advanced, layered, and blunt doesn’t come round too usually.