Reverend JKN, from Pittsburgh, is a rapper that cares little about cocky self-aggrandizement or shallow braggadocio; he even affirms on Tower of Babel, the sixth track on Fringe – “Don’t let them put the Reverend on a pedestal”. One thing this mysterious artist does care about, though, is causing his listeners recurring nightmares with his eerie, abstract hip-hop. Best described by the man himself, the music on Fringe is a “study on not taking medication”.
Within half a minute into the album we know for sure (if the album cover wasn’t convincing enough) that Reverend‘s music is not the kind to be taken casually, and can by no means be considered normal. The opener features a haunting little tape-recorded discourse about mind control and the brain being a computer – an apt introduction to Reverend JKN‘s dark, twisted world.
As we head further into the album, we notice that JKN is quite a fan of these spoken-word interludes and sound effects, and many may find themselves drawing comparisons to the shtick of MF Doom. His flow is slightly atypical, and the production is a psychedelic blend of dark droning instrumentation and conventional hip-hop beats. Pianos make frequent appearances, and the album also features an extensive range of samples to build its surrealist atmosphere. Lyrically, Fringe may come off as offensive to many whenever Reverend JKN launches into a graphically explicit description of his sexual appetite. But then it hardly matters, as the rapper succinctly promises on the title track, “Nothing in this world can free me from my violence”
Favorite Track: Guilt
5. [STALLMAN PSA]
6. TOWER OF BABEL
10. TYCHO BRAHE
11. A FREE OPEN AND UNIVERSE [INSTRUMENTAL]