Lawless Element is an odd combo, a mixed-up mash-up of old-school posturing and neo-futurist neon tubing. Instead of rat-a-tat drum machines or screwed-up soul samples, the band lays conversational rhymes over icy, pulsing electronics and a bass boom bigger and deeper and colder than a black hole. It's sonic schizophrenia -- the sweet soul hook that corkscrews across "One Night" seems at odds with its stoic analog synths, and the weird gothic-castle arpeggio that flaps like a bat around the rafters of "Represent/Motown" sounds like it was razored off a Walter Carlos record. You can trace some of that back to fellow Detroit rappers Slum Village (whose Jay Dee served as a guiding hand here), but where Slum bent and twisted its synth squiggles to replicate old funk records, Lawless is weirder and more remote. Fortunately, the moments when it locks into a warm, steady groove ("Love" is a particular peak) thaw out the intermittent spells of chilliness.
Recommended For You
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!