King Cobra: Vinyl LP
Infinity Knives x Brian Ennals

King Cobra: Vinyl LP

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Label: Phantom Limb
Release Date: 29th July

One of the most sonically diverse hip hop records of the year, touching on old school boom bap, trap, gospel, psychedelic hip hop and a harder edge production. Lyrically these guys are fired up and are calling out the BS from all corners. One of the best hip hop records of the year, this one.

For those who dig: Run the Jewels, Death Grips, Ice Cube, KRS-One, Dälek, Mos Def...

Baltimore hip-hop experimentalists Infinity Knives & Brian Ennals return with vital new album King Cobra, a mighty, omnivorous record that pushes the duo to unstoppable creative heights.

Infinity Knives & Brian Ennals’ inexhaustible creativity has already gifted us 2020’s Dear, Sudan - a kaleidoscopic, unpredictable joyride of late night channel-hopping - and 2021’s brutal post-George Floyd manifesto Rhino XXL, but King Cobra is a new experience still. It is a masterfully executed expression of both ferocity and joy. ”Not a checklist of all the ills in the world,” says the band, “but it feels like darkness”. An expansively ambitious record, full of fire, and a thrilling new step from artists on a crucial mission.

An opening of moody, operatic lamentation for guitar and voice steeped in VHS warble intensifies the record that follows. “Coke Jaw” barrels out like a swinging fighter, matching nimble Tron synthesis with lines that “fuck the Clintons and the Kennedys” and proclaim “we the post-apocalytpic Run-DMC”. Lead single “Death Of A Constable” maintains the visceral energy, Ennals honouring Black life and culture in one line and biting hard on injustice and inequality in the next. He’s “saving up for a new guillotine” to deal with PTSD giving him “killer dreams”. Centrepiece “A Melancholy Boogie” ups the funk without softening any collision impact. A Prince-esque bassline and Funkadelic backing vocals are punctuated with orchestral stabs and Ennals’ penetrating, fleet-footed dissections of innercity hardship. Throw in themes of learned Afrofuturism and Tanzania-born Infinity Knives’ instinctive East African licks, and the track is capable of towering over its peers.

The duo offering Ice Cube and KRS-One’s Boogie Down Productions as influences reveals an admiration for time-revered classic hip-hop, but digging deeper uncovers references (both overt and subtle) to Pink Floyd, Stars Of The Lid, William Basinski, Sade, Outkast and Aretha Franklin among a vibrantly coloured palette. “Sonically it’s jagged, it’s incongruent, it’s supposed to make you feel a little uncomfortable,” the duo explained.

More than a pure hip-hop producer, Infinity Knives (aka NPR composer-in-residence Tariq Ravelomanana) demonstrates his oft-discussed love of contemporary classicists such as Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson throughout. Hidden deftly amongst the hard-hitting beats and Ennals’ lyrical dexterity are moments of blissful orchestration that betray an abundance of musical talent and a precise control over the cleverly formed layers of melody and harmony. Key track “Don’t Let The Smooth Taste Fool You” is in the rare and notoriously complex 10/4 time signature, but in Ravelomanana’s hands it prowls sleek and powerful as a lion. More than a pure hip-hop record, King Cobra provides a relentlessly inventive backdrop for Brian Ennals’ righteous poetry of vitriol, rage, philosophy, humour and myth-making. “This isn’t an album meant for you to smile to,” Ennals writes, “except when I say something funny.”

A1 Neath The Willow's Leaves
A2 Coke Jaw
A3 A Melancholy Boogie
A4 The Culling ft. Tyler Moonlight
A5 Don't Let The Smooth Taste Fool You
A6 Theme from King Cobra
A7 The Badger
A8 The Not So Tired Sounds of Brian Ennals
B1 Sunday Feb 19th 2017
B2 Death of a Constable
B3 The Bushman
B4 Headclean
B5 Premium Malt Freestyle ft. Eze Jackson
B6 Milk & Codeine
B7 Bluffin'
B8 Sambo's Last Words
B9 On Bread Alone ft. Allison Clendaniel

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