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Video: The Doppelgangaz, "Hark Back"

As far as I know, The Crow: City of Angels was not an especially well-loved movie, but as a teenager, I had the soundtrack and I loved it front to back. It was a weird mix of stuff. Hole did a Fleetwood Mac cover. Seven Mary Three were on there, and so were The Toadies and Bush and Filter, if that gives you any idea of what was going on in music at the time. There was also "Tonite is a Special Nite (Kaos Mass Confusion Mix)" a dusted collaboration (literally, it sounds like everyone is on PCP) between trip-hop pioneer Tricky and The Gravediggaz, a rap group that featured RZA and Prince Paul and was largely credited for sparking the sometimes embarrassing/sometimes awesome rap subgenre horrorcore. This sound was actually perfect for RZA, who was able to growl and moan his way through the darkly ecstatic verses. At the time, the track didn't blow me away, but it's grown on me over the years, and more importantly, has become weirdly influential on rap as a whole. The Doppelgangaz are a duo from New York—New York rap is back! Or it never left! Or it has just figured out how to be relevant again!—pick one of those options. It feels cool living here, seeing young kids pillage little bits from what came before and create something very much their own out of it. Even the most blatant copycat moments feel joyful, like its young creators are discovering their older brother's CD collection and just jamming their way through it alphabetically until they hit on something they like.

The Doppelgangaz are not horrorcore, but they're making dark music, and on "Hark Back" they even have that RZA-esque pained growl popping up a few times. Instead, this feels like another track in a lineage of drizzly, frigid east coast rap songs. It's a well-worn style, but it's a good one, drawing from both the actual environment of New York and the significantly bleaker world created by The Gravediggaz and Wu-Tang Clan and Cella Dwellaz and Mobb Deep and Kool G Rap....the list could go on. The point is, you can either embrace your city's history or ignore it, and sometimes it gets dense enough that all you can do is embrace it and take your place in the timeline.

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Video: The Doppelgangaz, "Hark Back"