In recent years, there’s no doubt that the popularity of word-based art has skyrocketed, and as a result the quality, quantity and variety of associative works has all correlated positively. Some may refer to it as a saturation, others as a godsend. However the work of artists like Tzusan is so bespoke and fresh, that it is impossible to pigeonhole. Bombarding listeners with diverse and untapped elements, his work is dauntingly dark yet unnervingly welcoming at the same time. It’s not all too often in 2019 that rappers or vocal artists also produce their own beats, so Tzusan takes that fact and spits in its puerile face.
His productions are original, gritty and complex; borne in a dilapidated lab wreathed in gloom and enmity. Out of the smoky chamber lit only by a decadent monitor, Babau has arrived. Categorised by its birthplace, the record reflects its bleak surroundings whilst also being invigorating and energetic. Tzusan consistently reaps the benefit of workman-like sampling, drawing sounds from all manner of milieu. A sci-fi/horror influence is extremely apparent, as the Scot pours fragmented inspiration from film and art-house pieces into his productions with an innate air of maturity. The record features not only Tzusan’s raspy flow and dystopian production, but also contains verses from his SKOOP family crew as well Glaswegian artist Kid Robotik and Brighton based posse CMPND. Let’s dig a little deeper and analyse some of the tracks that make this multifarious bit of madness so original.
‘Prelude’ immediately exemplifies Tzusan’s production skills, with glitched out trills and illbient elements taking the reigns before his vocals punch through, setting the sombre tone with his disconsolate yet thought provoking lyrics.
‘Freezer Sections Dealers Left’ incorporates a more boom bap styling, but stunts as if rolled on an indica blunt. A sleepy yet haunting backing vocal percolates and instils nagging terror, until the track almost halts, transforming into a pressing entity with a different and eerily echoed message.
‘Where Did All The Dreamers Go?’ has a Death Row vibe about it, combined with his bugged-out, subby re-wired chops and slices. The Peep Show influenced lyric and creepy horror sample are undoubtedly the best of both worlds, playing to his unerring ability to fine-tune tricked out beats and create interesting realms for his intricate wordplay.
Leeds up-and-comer Donimitsu and SAMA recipient Kid Robotik feature on ‘Jade Pagoda’, elucidating their own life experiences and downcast world views over a typically wonky Babau beat. The bit-crunched, off kilter melodies spew unfiltered emotion, and the haphazard percussion makes this one a depressive yet authentic head nodder.
Next up, SKOOP alumni Skillin spits on ‘No Brainer’. Chock full of contemporary references, the two are equally wordy and coherently aloof. Each bar is more pervasive that the next, whilst the beat is characteristically weird and nagging.
The trip hoppy ‘VRILLIAM’ is a clear standout for us. The instrumental is serene and placid, the lyrics ambivalently relevant. Echoing Lord Quas with a pitch bent vocal flip, the track speaks to all manner of types.
‘Whosafraidofthebigbabau’ features Papillon, also of the SKOOP crew. The track switches from Babau’s distinctively lethargic tempo, to an agile creation with uninhibited percussion reminiscent of the ‘Yonkers’ beat on coke.
‘Epilogue’ closes the record, neatly encapsulating Tzusan’s production majesty and intricate lyrical content. Amongst other topics, his thought-provoking parable discusses the intervention of scientific invention and also dystopian depression, illuminating him as a conscious benefactor of human life. Tzusan’s talent is unharnessed and well developed, so hopefully this impressively original record will thrust him forward into bigger and better things.