I typically call bullshit at designating something a "challenging listen"—aw, you may not get this, dear reader, like I do—but if any projects over the last year fit the distinction, it's Harbinger and VIOLENCE, the pair of mixtapes from The Devil, née Derek Schklar. Schklar came up as manager to Atlanta rappers Pill and Trouble. He's now a producer, but to call that his "thing" that feels hilariously dismissive; rather, production is one facet of a fairly ineffable grander scheme which includes short films, a completely entrancing website, and the most meticulously curated Instagram in existence. Last year's Harbinger felt unlike any rap mixtape I'd ever heard, because it wasn't, really; it felt more like a socio-political thesis, supported by a jarring collage of doomsday news clips, jolts of harsh noise, and raw, angry Southern rap. VIOLENCE follows in its footsteps: meticulously arranged to feel almost accidental, seethingly nihilistic, practically begging you to turn it off. It's actually a touch more recognizable as a Rap Tape than Harbinger, with less jarring interruptions in its icy, hunched-shoulder raps from DTE's Alley Boy, Pesci, and more (and as always, a handful of poetic licensed "guests" like "Horrific Acts" and "A Small Pocket Knife"), but this barely makes the project easier to swallow; there's still the horrified whimper of a man possessed with fear, and the reviling friction of someone furiously fapping to Obama debriefings. This is worlds away from the post-OFWGKTA Tumblr-Satanism of an upside-down cross tank top. This stuff is pure, unmistakeable loathing on record—frothing hatred of a world where you're evil or you're fucked.
Highlights: "Kill Radio Kill / The Ride," the tape's most elaborate collage, which shoves stutters of Johnny Cash, Converge, The Dillinger Escape plan, and this stupid shit against frothing verses from Alley Boy and Pesci.
WTF: The day Jaden Smith gets a hold of this tape is the day everything changes.