The first volume of Lord VZA’s lengthily titled Haibane Renmei & The Oreo Speedbikes series dropped New Years Day 2019, its industrial tread nightmare an unmatched experience in an extremely saturated scene. The opener of Part 2, the dense, metallic maelstrom ‘(Lin Ultra) Dark Throne Radioactive‘, continues this obsession with shadowy, Blade Runner-esque soundscapes. Clearly, anime is a big influence on the rapper’s tape concepts, as multiple references to Neon Genesis Evangelion are made throughout the project. And indeed, as the beats become more hectic and weird, so does VZA’s lyrical approach. At about three tracks in, Speedbikes 2’s ragga/tread fusions become genuinely disorientating and it becomes clear quite how much work is poured into the artist’s work.
The sound of tread is truly key to success of the modern underground, but few are pushing it in as many intense directions as VZA. Contorting the fast-paced energy of the sub-genre into something more sinister, the rapper crafts menacing bangers like ‘(Abara) Dirt Angel Brain Cooler’ with immense ease. With multiple references to classic anime Berserk and Death note littered throughout, this song is created with an attention to detail that only an artist with true ambition could attempt. This adoration for anime culture peaks on ‘(Elena) Illumination Cannon’, where ‘Guts’ Theme’ from the former anime is employed to enormous atmospheric effect. As VZA’s gruff vocals scatter toward the deepest of beat pockets, the rapper proves his skill in his chosen craft time and time again.
Plunging further into the album only reveals stranger twists and turns. ‘(Shiloh) Rapid 99’ sports a drum n’ bass instrumental and bizarre lyrics (‘Walk up in the party packing a plasma pistol’), while ‘(Exparolia) Cybernetic Holocaust’ is a grotesque team up with Abnormal Area that oozes a terrifying darkness. There’s quite a few entertaining guest spots here, Russia’s Whitener shows out on ‘(Heisel) Half Life 3’ while angelic vocals courtesy of Minx180 make up the bulk of ‘(Bjork) Juxtaposition As A Sicko’. By the time the album concludes with ‘(Kigome) Chain Smoking Bio Death Arbiter’, there’s little for VZA to do but run a victory lap in celebration of him and his producers conquering the scene. Maybe the fact that this song is mostly instrumental is a statement, as what else can you really say when you’ve added so significantly to the endless possibilities of hip-hop’s ever-growing sphere of influence.
Listen to the project in full here.