A technically proficient yet emotionally potent rapper, Barry Marrow is one of those rappers who I’ve been enjoying for a while now, and have been waiting on to release a truly definitive work. His features throughout the Souless catalogue, as well as his previous projects (including the first volume of this predominantly Killer Kane produced series) have all displayed Barry’s birlliant blend of New Jersey rasp and, more recently, his melodic exploration. PREFIX offered an interesting peak into Barry’s introspective universe: ‘Seasons’ was a wonderful exploration of a sound initially far removed from the sharp rhymes found elsewhere on the project.

On KILL BARRY 2, a lot of the same can be said about this duality. ‘Donuts’ is spotted with pleasant melodies, but its central vocal is the flow tornado found in the first half of the song. ‘I don’t really like going out to dinner, like my bitch thick but she getting thinner. Like smoke the weed, kick it in the forest, when I hit a mil pay my momma mortgage’. The Kane produced beat reminds me of something from Pinata, its deft sample looping satisfyingly as Barry spits about his adolescence. Kane takes it up a notch on the lead single ‘RidesWithTheDevil’, seeing Barry sparring with both Lärs and Big Larry over stuttering keys that threaten to buckle under the steely verses. ‘Peruvian vagina on my nose, that’s one hell of a feel. Always locked and loaded, keep it ghost and bitch I’m ready to kill’ is just one highlight from Barry’s bruising contribution to this track. Lärs decimates his verse: ‘I was in the line while they slumber, getting stomach pains from the hunger. Shawty turned my heart into a tundra’, while Larry explodes: ‘Every bar fire can’t throw me off in the mumble pit, I done had enough of it, slapping n***** for sucker shit’. ‘Souless what they calling ‘em, living off some lawless shit’ caps Larry’s dramatic conclusion and makes for another classic posse cut.

For the most part however the focus remains on the Barry/Kane team up. Although the latter doesn’t produce every song here like he did on the monolithic Bitter End, he did mix the entire project and as such his presence looms massively. On ‘Wires’, his melodic production complements Barry’s savage delivery, and helps the narrative of the song shift massively as it progresses. The song jumps from hedonistic criticism: ‘I can’t get out of bed, tryna figure the fuck why this girl ain’t giving me head’ to his experience as a youth: ‘Thought I was weird in high school cos I was hanging in sheds. I was just a trap boy, you was talking to feds’ and then on to social issues like parental abandonment and addiction. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect this one. ‘Duality’ demonstrates arguably even better chemistry, as Kane’s smooth drums and warm sampling eventually morphing into frantic pianos and slamming drums. Barry switches up both his flow and content similarly effectively, launching from depressing lyrics about abandonment and pain toward more braggadocios material. I view the first half as the aftermath of a painful event, and the second a whirlwind of escapist behaviour designed to mask said pain. Regardless of my interpretation, this song is clearly the apex of the record and a phenomenal listen.

Despite being an excellent duo, Barry and Kane’s space out their collaborations appropriately on this record to make room for guest producers and features. The (far too short) Splndid-helmed ‘Shells’ features a brilliant Barry verse racked with pain and loss, and an equally impressive verse from SeKwence that isn’t anywhere near as long as I would have liked. Regardless, this another great hook up between the two MC’s and the beat might be the most organic sounding on the tape. An even more impressive combination can be found in the massive ‘Adios’, packing another gritty Larry verse (he has the best voice for this trap shit). Larry bodies this beat, a synthy Frank Sriracha creation with a crushing bassline. I would also like to point out Barry’s progression as a songwriter, his hook here is wonderful and is likely to incite a lot of moshing at whatever event he decides to debut it at. The inverse of this song is the outro, a track that sees Barry unleash hell over a decidedly Earl Sweatshirt-inspired, bleak sounding ntvrme beat. The last few words on this project are sung softly, inferring that the next Barry Marrow project could be packing even more melodic experimentation. Based on his performances here, it would be great to hear Barry tackle this approach more in the future, as he’s shown immense skill at balancing it with his ferocious rap style. In a year already full of classic Souless material, this might just be one of the year’s most accomplished underground rap tapes.

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