FUTURE SHOCK-HOP Anti-Pop Consortium

Following
a seven-year hiatus, the underground hip-hop icons came back out swinging last
fall – “a new swagger for a new era.”

 

BY MATTHEW NEWTON

 

When Anti-Pop Consortium broke up in 2002, its dissolution
came on the heels of a critically acclaimed album, 2002’s Arrhythmia (Warp), hailed by many as a masterpiece in progressive
hip-hop. Punctuated by stutter-step beats and unconventional rhyme schemes, the
album cemented APC’s sound as a harbinger of rap’s future. But it may have been
a future envisioned at a cost. Six months after the album’s release – and
following a world tour with Radiohead and a stateside run with DJ Shadow – the
innovative quartet of Beans, M. Sayyid, Earl Blaize, and High Priest split,
citing differing creative visions.

 

“Things happen,” Beans says. “Everyone chose to spread their
wings for good or bad.” Following the break Beans emerged as a solo artist on
Warp, showcasing his talents as an auteur; M. Sayyid and High Priest formed
Airborne Audio, releasing 2005’s Good
Fortune
(Ninja Tune) and touring with Bright Eyes; and Earl Blaize immersed
himself in production.

 

It wasn’t until 2007, when a mutual friend arranged an
impromptu APC reunion at Beans’ birthday, that the seeds for Fluorescent Black – the group’s first album
in seven years, on Big Dada – were planted. Soon the foursome struck out on a
brief European tour, testing out new material while dusting off their live
show, all the while writing new music and further evolving the group’s
signature sound. As High Priest recalls, hip-hop was still locked in a
conservative mindset when Arrhythmia came
out. Today, though, he believes audiences have broadened their palette.

 

“You can’t ever really underestimate or overestimate what
people are willing to accept,” Priest says. “Even with this most recent
project, we find that people are gravitating to what might be considered the
more extreme aspects of our production.”

 

Having handled the lion’s share of production duties on Fluorescent Black, Priest is acutely
aware of the legacy APC has to live up to. Especially since he and his longtime
collaborators emerged from self-induced exile last fall and have been touring
steadily behind the album, including a slot at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival
in September and an appearance at South By Southwest in March; they’re
currently in the middle of a tour of Europe and the U.K.

 

“You need a new swagger for a new era,” Priest says. ” It’s
good to be in this place now, going with the grain as opposed to, in the past,
when it felt like we were going against it.”

 

[Photo Credit: J. Yoon]

 

 

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