Towards the end of 2011, Georgia Khalil Nova — the anime-obsessed, lo-fi beatmaker/rapper from Stockbridge, Georgia — appeared with a bizarre, broken-down mixtape called 808s of Death. It capped off one of the more fruitful years for anything-goes hip-hop and was given an early cosign by Danny Brown. Since then, Khalil Nova has released other mixtape, The Black Layne Staley, which should have plenty of SPIN readers reaching for the keyboards to download the thing, right? Khalil’s music bears the monotonous-in-a-good-way thump and chant of Atlanta trap — the Satan-in-the-club strains of Young Jeezy are an influence here — and the noisy, kitchen-sink maximalism that recalls getting lost in a YouTube rabbit hole and, well, Spaceghostpurrp before he got that 4AD money and inexplicably cleaned his act up.
Still, Khalil’s best work remains the mixtape that seemingly appeared out of nowhere, 808s of Death. On Tuesday, via MISHKA, Khalil will release the light-side sequel to 808s of Death, called 808s of Life. “Gunnin’ 4 a Palace,” the second track we get to hear from the project (check out “Mercury Diamondz” here), wraps dusted piano loops around screwball sci-fi sounds, and throws out one of the more nervy ’90s baby shout-outs rap’s witnessed in quite awhile: Khalil rhymes Japanese toy company “Bandai” with “Gemini,” the astrological sign Khalil apparently shares with Lenny Kravitz? “Gunnin’ 4 a Palace” is also slyly aspirational while still keeping its feet on the ground: “Teach em’ like Bill Nye / Why the fuck I need a mansion?,” Khalil raps with a tinge of disgust in his voice. RIYL: Main Attrakionz’s Dope Since ’91; Kenji Kawai’s score to Ghost in the Shell; Sun Ra’s Solo Piano Volume 1.
Stream “Gunnin’ 4 a Palace” from Khalil Nova’s 808s of Life: