Rumi - Hell Me Tight

(Click on the picture to download.)

Taking a little break from the Deutsche Welle posts for some of the freshest and most exciting underground hiphop I've come across in quite some time. Rumi is a Japanese MC and I actually came across her when I stumbled upon one of her promos on youtube. Released on the independent label Sanagi, Rumi's albums are virtually unavailable outside of Japan, which is a shame because she should be really HUGE!

I've seen Rumi's music being called goth rap somewhere on the net, and in a way it's not too far off the mark. That is, if by "goth" you mean a general mood of doom, claustrophobia and tension. Because Rumi's music is pretty dark, with sinister samples, distorted electronic sounds, nauseating basslines and hard-hitting drums. But like the best metal, hardcore or noiserock, like Public Enemy, early Tricky or a lot of 'ardkore and oldskool jungle, it is also carthatic and energizing. I'm not familiar with any of the producers on Hell Me Tight with the exception of Asa and DJ Baku, but they've all done a superb job in providing Rumi with impressive, bass-heavy soundscapes closer to The Bug (with hiphop replacing the dancehall influence), New Kingdom (anybody remember them?) or the most leftfield of Def Jux productions than the standard boom-bap beats of the DJ Premier/Pete Rock worshipping backpacker crowd. And even though I have to admit that my eurocentric Western ears needed some time to get fully used to the peculiar pitch and the cadences of the Japanese language, one thing was obvious upon first listen: this young lady can really spit. In fact, it's pretty impressive how effortlessly she rides even the sickest, borderline-dysfunctional beats.

Hell Me Tight is Rumi's debut album from 2004. This year she released a follow-up, Hell Me Why??, that I haven't heard yet. But if the preview tracks on her myspace site are anything to go by, it should be every bit as great as Hell Me Tight.

Here are the promos for Sanagi (from Hell Me Tight) and Hell Me Why??, the title song of Rumi's new album:


sunbathinglizard said...

thanks for this one. i am very curious to hear it. and yes, i remember new kingdom - one of my favourite hip hop records... grin
somehow your description also evokes mood - doom, although they are musically more mellow... just reminds me that i will have to think about posting some hip hop... hmmm
respect, sunbathinglizard

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square dancer said...

You're very welcome! Yes, New Kingdom are more... well, blunted, I guess. It was more the dense, sometimes oddly cluttered production and the general sense of unease and paranoia that reminded me of them. Anyway, I'd be quite interested to hear how you liked it. Cheers!

sunbathinglizard said...

finally got around to listen to it. i have to admit that in a first very superficial listening (just bits of the tracks) i had the thought that i might prefer an instrumental version. but by really listening to it it actually makes sense. and you're right, it has that feeling of unease, but here paired with this rather high-pitched rapping, which gives it a slightly hysterical tinge...in a good way. grin. don't want to scare anybody off - it is really one of the most remarkable hip hop records in quite a while for me.
and i relistened to some more strange hip hop (over at the cookshop blogspot you can find "them", which belongs in this category, too) - and well, i guess for me the best hip hop is the one where the ones making it are - well, mad.
thanks - sunbathinglizard

square dancer said...

Slightly hysterical, that's actually pretty on the money. That's probably why I mentioned Public Enemy and hardcore/metal in my write-up. Though it's achieved by different means, there's a similiar sense of urgency, of being in a state of hyper-alert that borders on a kind of paranoid, hysteria, but feels oddly empowering.

Thanks for the tipp-off to Them. Anticon put out some pretty good stuff a few years back. Not feeling the later records though, they're a bit too "weird" in a strangely contrived way for my taste. And as far as mad hiphop goes, I guess it's still hard to beat Ol' Dirty Bastard (bless his disturbed soul).

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I think this kind of music isn't common to listening and more when the main voice is a woman, I think that Rumi is totally a star I know she is going to go where she wants with her perfect voice.

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