The latest album by New Orleans rap duo “$uicideboy$” is an absolutely insane banger that manages to carry the $B typical flow throughout 14 more or less distinct tracks and catapults the listener into a 42-minute roller coaster ride through a dark, foggy, drug-ridden and hopeless world as depicted by $crim and Ruby.
Background and career ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The cousins Scott Arceneaux Jr. ($crim)*April 11, 1989 and Aristos Petrou (Ruby Da Cherry) * April 22, 1990 grew up in Metairie, Louisiana under rather poor circumstances and came into contact with crime, drugs and violence at a young age. While both shared a vivid interest in music and music production, the Boys took their first musical steps separately: Ruby learned to play several instruments and joined a punk-rock band, Scrim started DJing at a local college. However, after experiencing rather grim feedback to their musical efforts, they dropped any hopes of becoming successful in their respective genres and teamed up to pursue a rap career.
They both decided to take it seriously this time, and based on their deep dissatisfaction with the direction their life was taking formed a pact to commit suicide if they weren’t successful at the age of 30 – this is how they came up with the Rap-famous name “$UICIDEBOY$”.
The Boys took rather small steps onto the world stage on websites such as “soundcloud” and “Band Camp”, but quickly gained popularity from listeners all over the globe and raised the attention of more established Underground rappers such as Bones or Pouya.
Their first series of 9 records was the Kill Your$elf $aga, featuring one of their most popular, if the not most popular, songs to date, “Kill Yourself (Part III)”. What followed was the Boys’ first longer EP Gray/Grey, featuring rapper “Black Smurf” as well as other, lesser known underground musicians. Their rise to fame continued with several other single tracks, EPs and different projects with musicians from all sort of genres. By 2016, with SXSW and international shows under their belt, the recordings continued, notching nearly 30 full efforts within two years. Their 2016 release, and 29th record Radical $uicide- a 5 track EP produced by EDM artist Getter, is particularly noteworthy, as it was number 17 on the Billboard rap charts. This was followed by my favourite EP: Eternal Grey featuring an especially dark and gritty note perfectly represented in the song “Chariot of Fire”.
The Boys kept roaming the world and producing new music, culminating in their most recent and first official studio album, I Want To Die In New Orleans (IWTDINO).
The Suicideboys’ music is loud, yet has its silent parts. It features Ruby screaming his lungs out and, yet still doesn’t make Scrim almost whispering to himself feel out of place. Genre-wise the music is categorized as “Hardcore Hip-Hop”, “Dark Trap”, “Trap Metal”, “Cloud Rap” or “Shadow Rap” but none of these descriptions fits the vast amount of musical genres the Boys cover in their works, from Punk Rock over Soul and Blues to Gospel and so on. Sometimes their music is classified as “Horrorcore”, but Scrim and Ruby hate that term so much that they even wrote the song “Stop Calling Us Horrorcore” about it.
Major influences of their musical style derived from their adoration of “Wu-Tang Clan”, “NWA” and especially the “Three 6 Mafia”, that clearly ooze through the Boys’ musical and lyrical flow.
Overall Ruby brought a lot of 80s and 90s music into the duo’s repertoire, while Scrim managed to align it with a modern trap beat without creating something that sounds like most of the current trap garbage on soundcloud these days…[Ed.: Agreed, though some trap garbage is actually quite enjoyable.]
The two things that are always present throughout almost every single one of their songs are snaring Triple Hi-Hat patterns and a hammering Trap beat, which at first glance seems similar to most rappers these days. However, SB manage to mix this beat with other instruments, giving their songs a unique and distinct sound. The instrumentals used usually depend on topic, tone and feature guest, but often feature synthesizers, bells, guitars, occasionally pianos or a chorus and drums or other percussion, and pretty much
anything the Boys come up with.
Their lyrics deal with death, depression, regret, drug (ab)use and the fight between the Devil and God. Death is their most prominent theme, as Ruby and Scrim rap about the deaths of their idols, their loved ones, the death of society and, of course, their own deaths. However, they don’t embrace death, but rather depict it as a gate to heaven or hell (which one prevails?) that comes with possibly even more pain and agony. One might think that the duo encourages suicide as a form of escape and self redemption, but it’s actually quite the opposite. As Scrim once stated: Their music is a form of group therapy, as music brings people together to talk about all the terrible things going on in life, culminating in
ever-present death. It’s not emo music, because you actually feel better after listening to them when you’re sad.
Another reoccurring topic is the strong connection to their hometown New Orleans, as evidenced for example in the songs “Audobon”, “St. Bernard”,” Tulane”, or the latest example, “Carollton”. When they first started, the urge to leave the city was one of the major forces driving them forward, but after touring around the world they soon realized that they couldn’t just leave their past behind, and chose to further integrate their childhood and youth memories in the city into their further works.
Almost all of the $uicideboys tracks are self produced and they eventually founded their own label, “G59 records”, in 2016.
For a while Scrim produced for Republic Records, an Universal owned company, but after an argument he left. Nowadays, he harbors a deep hatred for the industry and, by extension, any form of commercial production. Nonetheless, his vita also includes the production of multiple commercially successful songs for Drake, Denzel Curry and Juicy J.
After dozens of EPs and singles the $uicideboys$ finally released their long awaited first official studio and debut album, which they had been working on since their beginning. It’s therefore unsurprising that (parts of) some of their older tracks with a fresh coat of musical paint are featured on this album, as well as re-imagined and rebuilt versions of earlier projects.
The first thing one notices after listening to I Want To Die In New Orleans is its incredible production quality: The tracks pass seamlessly into each other, only interrupted by occasional interludes or skits. These feature short sequences of interviews, news reports, an emotional breakdown of befriended photographer and producer Max Beck, and a speech at the Boys’ fictional funeral.
The first half of the album is rather calm and melodic, focused mainly on Ruby’s melodic singing, while Scrim sticks to his snoring deadpan deliveries like in the third song “Nicotine Patches”. With the sixth song, “Phantom Menace”, the album picks up pace and aggression, culminating in song no. 8 “WAR TIME ALL THE TIME” – a genuine banger – and no. 9 “Coma”. The album concludes in the 8-minute track “I No Longer Fear The Razor Guarding My Heel (IV)”, which is a weird mixture of 4 different $B songs that feels strangely out of place among the rather short 1 to 3-minute tracks the Boys usually come up with. The flawless production also makes one negative part about the record pretty apparent:
The tracks lack a distinct start and ending for the most part, and blend into one another without any interruptions. On the one hand this creates a smooth and continuous listening experience; on the other, some of the songs feel incomplete or uninspired. The aforementioned final track, “I No Longer Fear The Razor Guarding My Heel (IV)”, is a prime example for this, as it shows that the Boys are apparently struggling to reinvent themselves, or perhaps bring too extraordinary stuff into the mix.
The shorter pieces fit the $B style far better and don’t fail to deliver.The following list is a run-down of each song:
This song opens with the man this song is named after: Max Beck aka. King Tulip, and is about Ruby’s future demise. Scrim throws drug references into the tune.
A typical $B track, started off by Ruby, with Scrim appearing in the second part of the song.
“Bring Out Your Dead”:
One of the weaker songs on the album. It’s about drugs and sex.
Starts off with a melodic pop-rap hook by Ruby picked up by Scrim. His delivery is grim and deadpan – think 21 Savage. Widely considered as the album’s best track but not my personal favorite.
The vocally fastest track of the album by both rappers about a killing spree resulting from a hellish drug trip. Great performance by Scrim and one of my favorites.
Ruby’s most ‘emotional’ performance. A song from the eyes of the young Boys walking through their childhood memories to realize that all they wanted was to escape their bad circumstances and live a normal life. Melancholic, melodic, super sad – simply great.
Hate letter to the industry and celebration of a self-made success story. Vivid, aggressive, provocative – Absolute fucking banger.
“Krewe du Vieux (Comedy & Tragedy)”:
Feels like an extension the “Phantom Menace” both musically and lyrically.
“WAR TIME ALL THE TIME”:
Song about a war time veteran suffering from PTSD, who struggles to live in today’s society and wants to bring the war he witnessed to them in a bloody rampage. Features screaming soldiers, helicopters and rifle fire. Scrim’s best performance on the album, without outdoing Ruby screaming his lungs out. -Visceral, brutal, rough and loud- BEST TRACK ON THE ENTIRE ALBUM and one of the best releases to date.
A ballad about self- hatred and destruction of the own body, externally and internally, through drug abuse. Incredible production that brews several songs including “Much Better Off” by “Smokey Robinson” into a musically extraordinary, but lyrically rather bland, potion.
“Long Gone (Save Me From This Hell)”:
A toast to the dead friends, relatives and idols. Wouldn’t be special without the ever present chorus: ‘ Save me from this hell. Let me rest in peace’ that grants the track its recognition value- otherwise boring.
“Meet Mr. NICEGUY”:
Song about the conventions society forces upon us. Drowning emotions and problems to keep the illusion of happiness. The Boys describe how they drag
themselves forward despite their depression an anxiety. A calm, melodic track criticizing societal norms and ignorance.
Bass-heavy like “Paris” with hard-nosed, tough-minded, and unapologetic rhymes about being pimps and not giving a fuck. Very old school Gangsta rap- like lyrics without a deeper sense to them. A fun track, the point of which seems to be to spit verses. – Awesome brainless banger and second best track on the album, would have been a perfect closing song…
“Fuck The Industry”:
Pretty self-explanatory lyrics. Dry and boring musically, but at least the ending is cool. -Fuck This Song
“I No Longer Fear the Razor Guarding My Heel (IV)”:
The Boys attempted something new and failed pretty miserably, a random mixture of different recordings that is too long and doesn’t make any sense. The only somewhat interesting part starts at 2:20 and features an awful chorus accompanied by an acoustic guitar and another unidentifiable string instrument.
I Want To Die In New Orleans is an overall fantastic debut album by the “$uicideboy$” that didn’t fail to meet fan expectations. Lyrically and musically Scrim and Ruby might have delivered one of this year’s best rap albums. It covers their typical selection of dark topics combined with phat trap beats and a great variety of instruments and sounds. The production is absolutely gorgeous and makes for a smooth listening experience. Unfortunately the Boys concluded the otherwise almost perfect album in one of the worst ways,
possibly negating almost every of the aforementioned positives, which is a huge shame.
Nevertheless, with songs such as“WAR TIME ALL THE TIME” and “Carollton”, it’s hard to end the review on a negative note 😉
Personal rating: 8 Spooky out of 10 Da Scary
Check out the $uicideboy$:
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by Lennart Rauchschwalbe