Rapper Himself the Majestic and producer Froskees make up Shadowrunners. They create aggressive, declarative hip-hop usually backed by Memphis-tinged production that connects the sonic dots between the skittering electronics of buck/crunk music and the fluttering synth squeaks of old video games. They’re also close pals with San Jose sad-rap teddy bear (with a heart full of hate rapper) Antwon, and Himself has some of ‘Twon’s vulnerability for sure. On “European Cars,” the opening track to their self-titled album, Himself intones suicidal thoughts with a sense of Livejournal-era confessionalism, and materialistic, Kanye West-like wit: “Never saying prayers / Don’t think anyone can hear them / European cars bitch, I’m dying just to steer them / Fly like fallen angels / I’m hanging until I’m strangled.” Hidden inside the dark if silly song, though, seems to be a sincere expression of a crisis in faith.
“European Cars” is an appropriate mood-setter for the rest of Shadowrunners, which mixes aspirational partying with wrestling-nerd references and regular dude, twentysomething ennui. Other highlights: the 8-bit fight-rap of “Sentinels,” an anti-cop track that compares pigs to X-Men villains; “143,” a hopping, quiet storm-esque slow jam rap featuring Antwon; “Megazord,” a rinky-dink, doot doot party track Soulja Boy should remix. Also, there’s “Flip Phone,” which SPIN premiered back in July. Imagine two dudes that could beat you up but could also beat you at Pokemon and you’re close to understanding the Los Angeles duo’s tough guy nerd dichotomy.
Stream Shadowrunners’ self-titled album below.