Last year was a big one for Nine Inch Nails, but amidst all the hubbub surrounding new album Hesitation Marks — I.E. a Trent Reznor SPIN cover — a related but entirely unauthorized project didn’t quite get its due. The eight-song ?OTHING album found producer Jacob Safari cutting up classic NIN songs and sliding the beats over to Tucson MC Isaiah Toothtaker. The last we heard from that visually terrifying yet inordinately stylish rhymer, he and Gunplay were trading bars on a track called “Frownin’.” He’s been busy since, but now’s as good a time as ever for a proper introduction.
The video above not only gives second life to ?OTHING standout “La Mer” — it also offers an enthralling window in the mind of Toothy, a self-described “true-to-life thug” who here examines his unsavory ways while posing in a starkly clean environment. “I got no progress, I just got problems / I can’t solve ’em, won’t solve ’em / Pops gone, killed by cops, a lot of blood loss / I’m a parent now, yo, where do I stop?” It’s an intimately distressing portrait of the man with music that wants to be bright, yet seems ever dragged back into the shadows. Speaking of heavy, Isaiah says that chain weighs 30 pounds and bruises his collarbone.
Watch above, stream the release on Bandcamp, and stop by his tattoo shop sometime (Odd Future did). Toothtaker is working on a pair of albums produced by Meaty Ogre and Steel Tipped Dove, respectively, as well as an emoji design book called That’s Not Relevant.