When it comes to experimental hip-hop, there are not many artists who can compete with AJ Suede and Televangel. Both are Pacific Northwest artists and veterans of the underground rap scene who have completely unique sounds in their own right. AJ Suede has been Seattle’s best rapper/producer for a minute, while Portland’s Televangel has been making some of the best beats around for over a decade, first as half of Blue Sky Black Death and now as a solo producer.
With Metatron’s Cube, AJ Suede extracts himself from his previous rapper/producer formula and takes on the role of emcee, with Televangel producing every track on the album. Together, they create a portal to a world that’s mystical and mind-altering.
From the onset, this album is something special, conveying a sense of mood that’s exhilarating and relaxing. Before the beats kick in, we’re greeted by a cacophony of raspy free jazz horns and dissonant chords. It’s an unusual beginning for a rap album that sets the tone for things to come.
The rest of the Metatron’s Cube is equally atmospheric, propelled by a cinematic sound that’s hazy and nostalgic. With Televangel on production duties, AJ Suede is free to show off his flow and lyrics, and his wordplay is as engaging as ever. Televangel’s production is equally dazzling, presenting a suite of surrealist, glacial boom bap beats that perfectly complement Suede’s style.
There’s also an array of impressive guests, including Mr Muthafuckin’ eXquire on “Respect The Architect,” Ceschi and Hemlock Ernst of Future Islands on “3 Hours Late,” and Squadda B of Main Attrakionz on “Here.” The feature spots are a nice addition, adding an extra layer that helps round out the project.