PREMIERE: Jaguar Pyramids ‘Jaguar Pyramids’
New York grime that's not stuck in the past.
Lead photo by Gold Land
The blend of cockiness, raunch, crew camaraderie, and individual nihilism that make up New York rappers’ specific brand of griminess is impossible to reproduce if you’re not a native. While California has had their G-funk eras, their hyphy movements, the South’s been snappin’ and trappin’, there’s always been a certain strain of classicism present in New York rap, even as these out-of-region trends are being simultaneously absorbed.
Jaguar Pyramids are here to carry that grimy sound forward, but you’d never accuse them of being stuck in the past. The two emcees, Topprraaa and Czarquan (LES and Harlem, respectively), bring NY brashness to Yung Gutted’s (Brooklyn) dark, late-night-deserted-streets production. “Fill Him In,” featuring RatKing‘s Wiki (coming off his own tape release last week) is a standout track, with a creeping, subdued instrumental that could soundtrack a haunted house. Gutted’s beats have always tread the line between cloudy, ambient deconstruction and boom-bap groove, and it’s his guiding sonics, with additional production from Czarquan that help the project succeed. Not to say that Topprraaa (who’s adlib game is out of this world) or Czarquan can’t handle their own—the former’s more absurdist, Auto-Tuned lyrics contrast with Czarquan’s boastful hustler stories to create a multifaceted portrayal of the city’s sound today. On “Rari Leather,” both rappers fully inhabit the grim nature of Gutted’s beats, Topprraaa leading with “Bendin’ corners in Bed Stuy / Burn it down like Left Eye / Like a nose bleed keep yo’ head high / Slip once that’s fed time / Crack cooked in a baby jar / No food for the baby though.”
Over the eight tracks, the trio firmly place themselves in conversation with the RatKing-lead renaissance that’s been running the city’s downtown scene the past year or two. DJ Lucas, over-the-top performance-artist-as-DJ also gets off on the beat for “Ballerina,” furthering the connections between new-wave weirdo rappers everywhere. For Topprraaa, Czarquan, and Yung Gutted, it’s their first major release as a group, though they’ve been collaborating via their arts, music, clothing collective, Nocturnal Sons Posse, for a minute now. Jaguar Pyramids was mixed and mastered by Joshua H. Pleeter at Crooked Smile Studios. Stream below via SoundCloud, cop via Bandcamp, and link with all of Jaguar Pyramids on their socials.