As the heavy metal editor here at Noisey, it's quite rare that I dip my toes into other musical ponds, especially ones about which I admittedly have novice-level knowledge. Hip-hop is certainly one such genre (though I have learned a lot from my coworkers over the years!) but I do have a few favorites, and I can hear echoes of some of them in MC Sole's new LP, Let Them Eat Sand. The Maine-born, Denver-based rapper, producer, Anticon Records and Black Box Tapes founder, and prolific podcaster has been churning out revolutionary, experimental hip-hop since 1992, and has long been hailed as a pioneer of underground avant-garde rap.
Immortal Technique's biting wordplay and hypnotic delivery, Dälek's snappy, percussive industrial elements, and Sage Francis' emotive political-made-personal vibe all bleed through MC Sole's work, but he predates each of the three (and there's surely been some cross-pollination—Sole cites Immortal Technique as an influence). Resolutely anti-fascist and anti-state in practice and revolutionary in intent, Sole's music hacks out a unique and wholly necessary path for others to follow, while continuing to push past arbitrary boundaries and borders.
He describes his sound as "insurgent rap music" and "anarchistic hip-hop," that inhabits "a space somewhere between the dance floor and the riot line." Not content to merely speak his truths to power on tape, Sole is also deeply involved in radical media making; his Solecast podcast is part of the Channel Zero Podcast Network, and has featured interviews with activists, academics, artists, and anarchists like Will Potter, Mckenzie Wark, P.O.S., Abbie Martin, and Sage Francis. In his music, he's as likely to name-drop the Haymarket martyrs and climate change as he is to tug away at his own internal struggles with disillusionment and fear for the future.
His latest album, Let Them Eat Sand, (out February 2, 2018) is rife with jumpy beats, Sole's quicksilver flow, and bleak lyrics about power and abuse, and offers an apocalyptic vision (outlined in a statement he sent Noisey earlier this week).
"10,000 years of the failed experiment called civilization. 80 years till cities start disappearing into the ocean. 15 years till the Oglala aquifer is depleted and America’s breadbasket is a desert. 1421 people killed by cops in 2017. 1 year of Donald Trump.
Rising Fascism. Rising wealth inequity. Generations lost to memes and smartphones. Political discourse that reifies inequality & alienation. Brave resistance from Standing Rock to Trumps Inauguration. Heavy repression from Standing Rock to Trumps Inauguration.
Rapid gentrification displacing working people. All out attacks on all marginalized communities. The building of walls and jails. Apocalyptic forest fires, floods and storms. A totalitarian state.
An "apocalypse" that isn't coming, but already here.
All power to autonomous relief efforts, anti-fascists, the anarchists and the brave souls who understand what power has in store for us and what we must do to stop them. "
Listen to Let Them Eat Sand below, and order the album (which comes with a 60-page book of poetry) directly from MC Sole here.
Kim Kelly is waving the black flag on Twitter.