Karos’ new record is rough-hewn, but crucially succeeds in entrenching itself in a world of nastiness, horror, and malice.
Karos has proven yet again that he’s one to keep an eye on with his Halloween release “UGLYTALIBAN”, a record deep-set in the blasting radiation of horror-core aesthetics. Throughout the whole record, there’s little attention to fine detail; songs end abruptly or in silence, elements of each mix are unpredictably dynamic. At first listen in appears “UGLYTALIBAN” deals in absolutes. The title is shocking, the lyrics are abrasive (“pretty hoes need dope, so you know I got it”), and the sound design is murky beyond belief. There’s definitely bonuses to such heavy handed work; anti-cop track “FTP” runs at full force to incredible effect, galvanising its message of protest and fury with molten basslines and embers of scraping synths. This ethos can be a lot over twenty minutes, but, somehow, Karos keeps this latest venture afloat. He remains a charismatic and unavoidable presence on the mic, preserving the tape from becoming its own satire.
The Houston rapper is at his best on the two KRXXK backed opening tracks. “GXTH” is serpentine and confident. Karos spews filth, intent on fitting as much profanity and subjugation into his verse as possible. Under the guise of a Halloween release, he’s free to be villainous; “popping out the cut, like the Reaper with the scythe”. KRXXK’s beat is swirling and repetitive, skipping in loops like a recurring nightmare. There are threats of bloodshed on “GXTH”, foreboding warnings of things to come. “HELLHOUND” is even more unsettling, thanks to KRXXK’s manipulated lullaby melody. Further in the flows become more competent (“EVILTWIN”), the words get more cutting, and the beats get far, far, less hopeful. “HEARTATTACK” is produced by KRONE, and it’s the bleakest point on the album. The raps feel monstrous now, all energy consumed and redirected into words of malice.
Reflections do flicker in the distance, however. Closing track “RUSSIA” promises the relief of sunrise with it’s intro, a glimmering array of synth licks and snappy drums. “BREAK” with Isaax is calmer, and splits into a much needed instrumental respite halfway through (the constant sexualisation in Karos’ lyrics does grate a bit). “FTP”, as mentioned, is overpowered and warlike, with lines as brutal as “Swarm they ass just like some bees, stomp until they got no teeth”. Whether it’s the calm of autumn or the oppressive violence of the American climate, “UGLYTALIBAN” knows that all dreams reflect reality; its nightmare is a mirror of the waking world.
Listen to “UGLYTALIBAN” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)