Released 6th October
Lights flash red and blue from the cars in the street. If the sight of the paramedic over your own dead body wasn’t weird enough, then wait till you wake up during the funeral and throw open your coffin to find Flying Lotus leading the ceremony. This is the sound of the procession behind the hearse—a carnival celebrating life just as much as death.
If death is the one great and uniting theme of hip-hop, Flying Lotus has tackled it head on. You’re Dead! is experimental to its very core; conceptually, lyrically and sonically. Ideas come and go rapidly. The first five minutes showcase Thundercat’s virtuoso bass guitar playing alongside jazz legend Herbie Hancock. It gets better. Kendrick Lamar appears on ‘Never Catch Me’, philosophizing on the afterlife with some of the year’s hardest and fastest verses. Setting the diamond in the ring, Snoop Dogg makes an appearance on ‘Dead Man’s Tetris’ on a hair-raising production. And by the way, this is only a quarter of the way through a 40-minute album.
It’s not all deathly intense—moments of respite come quickly after a heavy loaded start. ‘Siren Song’ sets you afloat down a river Styx of wah guitars. Even eerier is ‘Descent into Madness’, again featuring Thundercat, whose writing influence can be heard in the chants admitting darkness and insanity.
Even at its weakest moments, Flying Lotus is just guilty of being really, really weird. Appearing as his alter-ego Captain Murphy, Flying Lotus raps over ‘The Boys Who Died in their Sleep’. With all the screeching and whining as he prescribes the listener Vicodin and other pills, it’s so wacky yet well produced that it works. For all the different styles present, it’s these qualities that tie it together: brilliant but bizarre production. Be it jazz, prog rock, hip-hop or electro, Flying Lotus brings it under his wing and sends it out with his own twist.
No doubt there will be differing opinions on this album in weeks to come. It will be too odd for some people. But if you dive in with an open mind and commit to the ride you will not be disappointed—this is one of the most simultaneously weird yet beautiful albums out there today.