Amazingly, this is my first time reviewing BEG! on 108Mics. I’ve been mutuals with and a fan of the California-based artist for a couple of years now, and SlavWorld 20XX feels like the perfect first project to touch on here. An ambitious, guest-packed mixtape, this collection of tracks is as strange and unsettling as it is charming and infectious.
Lead single ‘Salvia Smile’ kicks things off in trippy, uncanny fashion. BEG!, accompanied by a litany of featured artists (including the late LEVEL$, who this project is dedicated to), delivers a psychedelic love song rammed with sticky hooks and gorgeous vocal layering. The o9zane-produced beat sounds like something from a banned Spongebob episode, its darker take on tropical, watery instrumentation leads the song into fantastical sonic spaces. The tape as a whole is full of these weird, warped instrumental sounds, with guest artists that perfectly accompany BEG!’s very specific vision for the sound of this project. mothgirl’s appearance on ‘Wine n Ambrosia’ recalls their most outlandish hypnagogic pop material, the emotive guitars in palaisindigo’s production a bittersweet accompaniment to their morbid lyricism. BEG! delivers yet another outstanding hook, his voice more finely-tuned than ever.
Throughout his career, BEG! has worked hard to accommodate different voices and blend contrasting sounds into a satisfying whole. ‘I’m Bein Fr’ is the first song to feature faster, pitch-shifted rapping from BEG! and guest artist 9҉, , tied together by a ludicrously infectious refrain. ‘God Made You Special (And He Loves You Very Much)’ takes this a step further, giving most of the vocal responsibility to guest Booon! Booon! and largely taking the backseat on his own track. Despite these decisions, BEG! is still very much the central voice of the project. In order to remind you of this, a short stretch of solo songs follows. #fuckedup is a grimy trap piece with a much darker sound than the aforementioned tracks. rezlaine created a brilliant atmosphere with this beat, which allows BEG!’s disembodied chanting to really hammer itself into the listener’s brain.
The primary focus of SlavWorld does appear to be collaboration, however, and there’s plenty of that in its second half. BEG!’s performance on Oubliette is brilliant, the perfect balance of off-kilter humour and rightfully projected confidence. Chimbad’s epic beat and AOL’s Chief Keef-channeling verse only improve the quality of the song. ‘The Festival’ is the only Raised by Internet Musik-only posse cut on the project, and it more than lives up to expectations. Yung Leo’s malevolent, semi-whispered flow is fantastic, as is 4giv’s powerful closing verse which eulogises LEVEL$ as naturally as it campaigns for RBIM domination. The melodic hooks return on ‘Karmic Desire’; a song made infinitely stranger by twintail’s menacing guest appearance. They continue on the even more evil-sounding ‘Baphomet’, which has the most emotional, cloudy production on the project.
BEG! takes some massive stylistic risks on this project towards its end. Although he’s known for his bizarre brand of experimental hip-hop, songs like ‘Zombifying (Gemstone)’ push this style to its extreme. A schizophrenic masterpiece, the track makes ample use of Armpit Termites/Yung Leo co-production to present a brief, extremely alluring interlude amidst the more brazenly chaotic music surrounding it. ‘Lunar Light’ is one of the few songs here that employs the artist’s own production (alongside im6ges), and it’s clear from the bit crushed, choppy sound that he wanted to go all out with this one. The eerie text to speech at the end of the song sounds like an omen of the end times, and the crumbling, only semi-coherent vocal passages that precede it only exacerbate this feeling. Things wrap up with ‘Human Life’, led by a chilling spoken word segment courtesy of Greyhound followed by an unhinged, almost operatic vocal take by BEG! Himself. Atmospherically this might be my favourite song on the project, Booon! Booon!’s second production credit on SlavWorld really transports you into the artists’ world, where the physical form is not certain and the rebirth of the soul is inevitable.
I’ve gushed over this project enough to make my point. BEG!’s discography up until this point has contained many great projects, but none of them have come close to matching the emotions that SlavWorld 20XX brings out of me. If any project is going to prove that BEG! is one of the best at what he does, it will be this one.
Stream the album in full below.
Follow BEG! on Twitter.
– Chris (@108seraph)