Remember The Name
Few Milwaukee rap groups match KingHellBastard’s burning desire to assert a dominating presence in the city and beyond. At its best, the group’s latest EP, Remember The Name, justifies that desire with proudly traditionalist basement jams that find MCs DNA, Dana Coppafeel, and Shemp good-naturedly passing the mic to a bevy of underground hip-hop luminaries, including Brand Nubian’s Sadat X, eMC’s Stricklin, and Boston rapper Akrobatik. But while Remember The Name reaches beyond Milwaukee for guest stars, KHB is still very much centered on home and putting it on the map.
At times, Remember The Name is practically a Milwaukee hip-hop pep rally, particularly on well-intentioned but stridently boosterish tracks like “Ma’waukee” and “North Coast,” where Stricklin takes shots at cringingly easy targets like Soulja Boy and other “radio rappers.” Remember The Name fares better when KHB and its supporting cast ditch the corny digs at forgettable flashes in the pan and get down to the business of showing (rather than telling) what they’re capable of. Producer The White Russian whips up a heady, endlessly funky backing track for a thrilling, machine-gun-spitting verse from guest star Reakt on the boisterous highlight “PhD,” while Reason provides a soulful backdrop of splashy horns and punchy backbeats for “I Believe,” which features a cameo by Raashan Ahmad of Crown City Rockers.
Like the rest of Remember The Time, these songs eschew anything and everything that’s happened in hip-hop since 1993. (In case it wasn’t already obvious, KHB makes its Tribe Called Quest worship explicit on “A Tribe Called Bastard.”) With its eyes permanently affixed toward the past, Remember The Name won’t turn KHB into dreaded radio rappers, but it certainly would’ve been welcomed by Dre and Ed Lover on Yo! MTV Raps back in the day.
KingHellBastard celebrates the release of Remember The Name with a release show Saturday at Mad Planet.