Weird of the Day: Ceiling Demons, “Amputated Spirit”

Ceiling Demons

Hey, Brits: You know that cello player who busks in the pedestrian underpass near your work every day? The one you tossed like 50p to the first time you saw him and haven’t given him shit since? What if one day you went down there, and he was wearing a death mask and accompanying three rappers in black hoodies? You’d give him all your fuckin’ money then, wouldn’t you?

But don’t worry, Ceiling Demons aren’t as scary as they look. They’re actually quite nice, introspective lads, as this video for their new track “Amputated Spirit” shows. The masks are just so the other rappers won’t fuck with them on account of them being so nice and all.

“Amputated Spirit” will be released as a single this Friday, June 13th. To celebrate, Ceiling Demons will make their album Dual Sides available as a free download via Bandcamp for a limited time. See? I told you they were nice.

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Le1f

Le1f

Just because Macklemore sang “Same Love” at the Grammys (more on him in a minute), don’t think that hip-hop in 2014 isn’t still rife with homophobia. But a handful of ballsy performers are starting to change that—none ballsier, or weirder, than Mr. Khalif Diouf, better known as Le1f.

Le1f (pronounced “Leaf”) first made his name as a producer, making beats for fellow oddball New York rap duo Das Racist. You know that annoying/awesome song “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell“? That’s a Le1f joint. Even then, Le1f was already subverting hip-hop culture; he borrowed the track’s start-stop rhythm from “The Ha Dance,” a gay house anthem from the early ’90s, when the “vogue” scene made famous by Madonna was in full swing. “I was tricking them into rapping over a vogue beat,” Le1f gleefully bragged to Spin.

But punking his straight friends was the least of Le1f’s tricks. In April of 2012, he released his debut mixtape, a 21-track head trip of a record called Dark York. What immediately jumped out at most fans and critics—maybe because Le1f prefers to keep his vocals tantalizingly buried in the mix—was not the rapper’s out-and-proud lyrics, but his polyamorous relationship with genres. Dark York knocks boots with everything from dark electro and experimental beat music to the menacing, trunk-rattling sounds of the Dirty South—all of it tied together by Le1f’s syrupy flow and a vaguely stoned, psychedelic quality, as if all the music is coming at you through a bong-smoke haze. Or maybe it’s bathhouse steam?

Then came the videos. Starting with “Wut,” Le1f has created a visual style all his own, patched together from gay club culture, avant-garde modern dance (he has a degree in dance from Wesleyan University—my alma mater! holla!), neon-colored hipster fashion, and a dash of Pokemon. It’s playful, eye-popping and will probably make the most hetero among you extremely uncomfortable.

Side note about “Wut” and the aforementioned Mr. Macklemore: When Macklemore won at the MTV Video Music Awards last year for his pro-gay marriage anthem “Same Love,” Le1f launched into a tirade on Twitter, accusing the straight white rapper of cynically co-opting gay pride and style-biting the horn-driven hook on “Wut” for his other big hit, “Thrift Shop.” “[T]hat time that straight white dude ripped off my song then made a video about gay interracial love and made a million dollars,” one of the tweets read. “Wut” is hardly the first time anyone built a rap beat around a saxophone loop, but the timing is more than a little suspicious; “Thrift Shop” came out a little over a month after the video for “Wut” showed up on YouTube, and the similarities are hard to miss. But that’s way more space than Macklemore deserves in any post on this blog, so let’s move on.

Since the release of Dark York, Le1f has been on a tear, churning out EPs and mixtapes that seem to get better (and weirder) every time. He’s also created a live persona that’s a mesmerizing combination of hip-hop aggression and ball culture camp. And he has fantastic hair. (Watch until about the 5:30 mark; that’s when he really starts putting Willow Smith to shame.)

We’ll leave you with what is probably Le1f’s weirdest and/or sexiest (depending on what you’re into) video to date: “Soda,” from a 2012 collaborative EP with producer Boody called Liquid. Oh, and an important disclaimer: We are not making Le1f our Weird Band Rapper of the Week because he’s gay. Thankfully, being a gay rapper is not as weird as it used to be, and there are plenty of examples of other hip-hop artists, from Big Freedia to Mykki Blanco* to Brooke Candy, making music that probably seems—to straight audiences, anyway—just as weird as Le1f’s. But he gets our vote because ultimately, even if you took Le1f’s sexual orientation out of the picture entirely, his music would still be weird. And we mean that, as we always do, in the best possible way.

*OK, yeah, Mykki Blanco deserves a spot on the Weird List, too. She’ll show up here eventually. Promise.

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Insane Clown Posse

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Let’s be straight up on this one. We would’ve blogged about ICP a long time ago, but we never got around to it because, frankly, we thought they sucked. Some third-rate Beastie Boys wannabes wearing KISS makeup and rapping about serial killers? No thanks. Oh, wait, they spray their audiences with shitty midwestern soda pop? Nope, still not buying it.

But this past weekend, something kind of awesome happened: Insane Clown Posse’s fans, the Juggalos (seriously, that’s what they call themselves…we’re not clever enough to make this shit up) drove Tila fucking Tequila off the stage under a hail of beer bottles, rocks, fire crackers and supposedly even a little human feces. And while we’re glad they didn’t, like, kill her or anything, we applaud the sentiment behind the attack, which seems to boil down to something like: If you are a talentless fame whore whose best move is to show the crowd your tits, we will take you down.

This incident, which has already been described ad naseum here, here, and also here, took place at the Gathering of the Juggalos, an annual ICP-led festival that’s been happening every year since 2000 and now pulls in some scary large number of fans—over 20,000, claims the festival’s Wikipedia page, which is a lot of beer bottles. Apparently, the Juggalos also threw shit at Method Man, which somewhat undermines our theory that the attack on Tila was actually a scathing critique of reality TV culture—unless they’re confused and thought that piece-of-shit sitcom Meth did with Redman a few years back was supposed to be real. Or maybe they’re just lashing out at all purveyors of crap television. Anyone know if Tom Green got his ass kicked at the Gathering, too?

Anyway, regardless of what we think of ICP’s music—or what ICP fans think of bisexual midgets named after alcoholic beverages—we have to give Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope props for doing whatever the hell it is they do for so long…20 years and counting, which is a helluva lot of Faygo (that’s the shitty midwestern soda pop they spray on their audiences—and believe us, they spray it like they own stock in it).

It’s tough to decide what the weirdest thing is about Insane Clown Posse. Is it their music, which we guess is called horrorcore, and sounds kinda like a cross between Korn, Kid Rock, Cypress Hill and Weird Al Yankovic (and you would think that would sound awesome, except it doesn’t)? Is it their fans, the Juggalos, who proudly flaunt their Faygo and clown makeup in all sorts of goofy homemade videos and endlessly debate what it means to be part of the “Juggalo family“? Is it the fact that they run their own wrestling league? Or their crazy, over the top Halloween shows, which almost put GWAR to shame? Maybe it’s just the fact that their ringleader is a fat white dude who wears clown makeup and calls himself Violent J. God knows we’ve stuck other bands on The Weird List for less.

Andy and I debated this one long and hard and finally came to this conclusion: Of all the crazy weird shit ICP is responsible for, nothing is weirder than the video they just released earlier this year for a song called “Miracles.” This really falls into the so-stupid-it’s-pure-genius category. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Be warned: It’ll shock your eyelids.

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