Release Date: Sep 29, 2009
Record label: Big Dada
During their few years together in the late '90s and early 2000s, Antipop Consortium blazed a trail for forward-thinking rap. The trio of Beans, High Priest, and M. Sayyid (plus the critical help of longtime engineer Earl Blaize) rapped plenty of abstract scientifical madness, but they also had intelligence and hardcore flow to spare (think A Tribe Called Quest plus Marvel Comics).
Several years after Anti-Pop Consortium imploded following their blistering Arrhythmia long-player, hip-hop finds itself in as varied a state as it’s ever been. On one side of the spectrum you’ve got the chart-hogging, unchallenging pop fodder that’s been doing the rounds in more or less the same state since the turn of the millennium – and at the opposite end there are, as ever, a host of independent artists twisting their concepts of the genre into new and exciting shapes. Of particular note are LA’s collectives, loosely grouped around Flying Lotus, Samiyam et al, who have taken the low-slung template J Dilla left as his legacy and infused it into a potent cocktail of dubstep, urban sleaze and skunk smoke.
The genesis of Anti-Pop Consortium’s latest album comes after, some will assume, major personal shifts in the group. After the release of 2002’s Arryhthmia, the New York avant-hop brigade disbanded amid reports of internal dysfunction, reports that turned out to be a little exaggerated. As it turns out, Fluorescent Black is nothing more than a culmination of natural progressions, expanding ideas and some well-deserved downtime, and that in itself is reason enough to herald its arrival with due celebration.
Even with the 10th anniversary of their debut album around the corner, it seems silly to ponder Anti-Pop Consortium's place in hip hop. Name, sound, rhyme style, lyrical content, release sleeve iconography: Anti-Pop were stylized (by the press as much as by themselves) as a fuck-you, a caustic riposte to a genre that had apparently taken every wrong turn possible in the 1990s. They likely give as much of a shit about how they "fit in" with rap in 2009 as they do about concepts like "limited appeal." Which is not to say the group doesn't have enough history behind them to be assessed on their own terms.
Like Warp, which put out 2002's Arrhythmia, the Ninja Tune/Big Dada family always encouraged the union of hip-hop and electronica. The London label gave New York's Anti-Pop Consortium free rein to turn the knobs and hype up the bizarre on Fluorescent Black, the New York foursome's first album since Arrhythmia. After almost eight years, APC couldn't jump back in too soon.