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Review: Captain Murphy – Duality


After a long summer of speculative web-murmuring by every click-monkey in the hype machine, hip-hop lovers need no longer contemplate the true identity of California’s man of mystery, Captain Murphy. Last weekend in LA, the anonymous rapper stepped out from the shadows and onto the stage in a sequined gold cape and a ski mask. At the end of his live debut to a sweatbox of devotees, the hood was thrown down to reveal the benevolent grin of a familiar face. And the word was out: Captain Murphy is Flying Lotus. The world keeps spinning.

What endures is Duality, the Captain’s 15-track debut featuring guest bars from Earl Sweatshirt as well as Brainfeeder peripheries, Jeremiah Jae and Azizi Gibson. Production credits on the tape boast not only a new swamp of FlyLo instrumentals, but also the collected beat-power of Madlib, Just Blaze and TNGHT. With a patchwork of audio pinched from anything from the Heaven’s Gate Cult Initiation Tape to the Simpsons, the tape’s backdrop winds up sounding like something close to the sound collages popularized by an early MF Doom. With the constant re-pitching on its vocals, the project also calls to mind Madlib’s helium-huffing alter-ego Quasimoto. Like Quasimoto’s, Captain Murphy’s world is a smoked-out cartoon universe sated with ADD references to everything in the urban nerd’s imagination. Streetfighter, Star Wars and Batman are all bases covered here. Unsurprising given its collaborative conception, the bars on Duality tend to thrive in the same lyrical vein as Odd Future: heavy on sniggering non-sequiturs and rich in lewd wordplay. Though often clever, the release falls short of offering an overarching theme as everything tumbles down a rabbit-hole of stoned gimmickry. Once looped into the swing of the Captain’s ‘swag of seven sailors’ though, you’re unlikely to notice, less even, care.

In fairness, Ellison really finds his voice in the dark lyrical universe of The Ritual, a moody after-party narrative that rides through moonlit woods to a carnal sex-rite before an open fire and a ‘blonde girl whispering in my ear that’s she a virgin’. Crucially too, these macabre fables are all fed to us over the top of the past year’s premium in rap instrumentals. At the end of Gone Fishing and Mighty Morphin Foreskin we get the pleasure of Ellison’s crates reconstituted into short musical afterludes, instrumental moments that borrow heavily from the darker side of seventies psychedelia. For those looking for stand-outs though, look no further than Between Friends, an eerie-beautiful back-and-forth between CM and Earl Sweatshirt that will stay with you for the rest of the day. There’s one final cherry on top of this hip-hop pudding too: Duality is all yours to watch in its original form in hyperspace, a cracked-out 35-minute video stream available over at Grab a spoon, doopid.

Will Davenport


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