Although slightly undercooked in terms of length (the album is essentially 20 minutes long), New York producer Theravada and L.A. rapper Yungmorpheus make the most of their time with their collaborative EP, Up Against The Wall; A Degree Of Lunacy, digging into weighty topics without sounding forced or preachy in the process.
The album is a non-stop barrage of punchy wordplay over reflective soul production, that is at some times thought-provoking, and other times just captivating. Rapping over Theravada’s laid-back production makes Yungmorpheus’s rhymes hit that much harder. Case in point – opening track “Beneath the Visage,” which serves as a manifesto for the duo, with Yungmorpheus drawing on his own personal experiences to develop poignant stories and social commentary about the world around him. The rest of the album continues in a similar vein, with Yungmorpheus’s tight bars dedicated to expounding on everything from 90s hip-hop to wack/glossy MCS to gentrification in L.A.
Although it’s an upbeat affair, there’s a sense of melancholy that runs through the entire project, from the MC’s observations on life to the elastic soundscapes laid down by Theravada. The formula is effective, as Yungmorpheus & Theravada. manage to blend the personal and political subtly and effectively. In the end, Up Against The Wall; A Degree Of Lunacy achieves what many lesser albums fail to do: it makes the listener think deeply about a new point of view, inspiring further study. This isn’t just a degree of lunacy—it’s also a degree of enlightenment.