King Cobra is live and direct. It’s the sound of Ice Cube blasting out of a boombox before the police show up. It’s DatPiff mixtapes hastily ripped by pre-teens before getting pulled down for sample clearance issues. It’s grime MCs fighting against the static on pirate radio.
King Cobra is also the sound of the present. The duo Infinity Knives & Brian Ennals have tightened their long-running partnership to create a sprawling album that’s unabashedly political and DIY. Ennals is a no-bullshit MC who uses energy and heft more than flashy flows or internal rhymes. He performs like he’s ranting off the cuff, but the lines are far too clever for that to be true. “Cruising up your block on DMT / We the post-apocalyptic Run-DMC”, goes one line on ‘Coke Jaw’. Elsewhere, he’s partying to the sound of dead cops.
Infinity Knives is the ideal confidant for such a charismatic and ballsy rapper. His production cobbles decades together out of whatever machine parts he has lying around. Roland TR-808s, horror movie synths and sheet metal appear alongside gorgeous pads and eerie found sounds.
Like fellow Baltimore experimentalist JPEGMAFIA, Ennals and IK bring us into the cutting room, show their working and emphasise the message above all. In the middle of a classic bit of hip-hop storytelling on ‘The Badger’, Ennals stops to deliver his demands. “Shout out to sex workers. Trans Lives Matter. House the Unhoused. Black Power. / I don’t give a fuck who just became a billionaire, I don’t give a fuck if they’re Black.” King Cobra is an unpolished tour de force, full of default presets and dodgy vocoders, and it’ll jolt you awake like few records can.
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